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ROBBIE DEANS: Fed to the Lions

Robbie Deans Columnist

By Robbie Deans, Robbie Deans is a Roar Expert

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    Robbie Deans has proved himself to be a true New Zealand patriot. (Photo: Supplied)

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    The domestic coaching career of Robbie Deans is without parallel in the annuals of trans-Tasman rugby.

    A former All Black, Deans was the pin-up boy of the Canterbury team of his generation during a 12-year playing career.

    Even greater acclaim has followed as one of the best coaches of the modern era.

    After 17 years coaching professionally, Robbie still boasts a 70 per cent success rate.

    He remains Super Rugby’s most successful coach six seasons after his departure from the competition, and wielded an enormous influence on the careers of a large number of players, including Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, who went on to anchor arguably the greatest All Black team of all-time.

    Controversially overlooked as All Black coach himself, Robbie became the first foreigner to coach the Wallabies, concluding his time as Australia’s longest serving mentor, having lifted Australia from fifth on the IRB world rankings to second – a position they occupied for just short of three years.

    Yet, beyond the imagery we see on television and the guarded statements recycled through the press, Robbie remains a personality that we don’t really know.

    Until now.

    For the first time, Robbie opens up on his career: from the triumphs of his formative years where he was nearly lost to a first class cricketing career, through Canterbury’s glory days in the early 1980s and the experiences that shaped the man and the coach.

    In this exclusive extract for The Roar, he also breaks the silence on his removal from the Wallabies position for the first time, examining in depth five turbulent years where the systemic and cultural challenges off the field were every bit as daunting and unrelenting as was confronting the best team on the planet.

    Fed to the Lions

    This is an exclusive extract from the upcoming biography of Robbie Deans, Red, Black & Gold – the Robbie Deans story

    He was arguably the loudest critic prior to Robbie’s appointment. Yet Peter FitzSimons believes the Australian game was enriched by the work of its first foreign-born coach.

    Robbie, the former Australian test lock says, departed the Wallabies well-regarded within rugby circles for the job that he had done. No other Australian coach had been so giving of his time and contributed so greatly to the community.

    Robbie is so passionate about the game, FitzSimons says. He wants others to gain the same enjoyment out of it that he has had.

    At the time of his appointment, FitzSimons argued against it. While he has enormous respect for New Zealanders, and New Zealand rugby, he believes the New Zealand Rugby Union would never appoint an Australian as All Blacks coach – let alone an Australian who had been passed over for the Wallaby position. His protests were not a shot at Robbie, whom he barely knew. FitzSimons was in fact ‘astounded’ that the incoming Wallaby coach had been passed over for the head coaching position in his homeland.

    Robbie was already a great coach in 2007, FitzSimons contends. He is an even better one now for all that he experienced coaching the Wallabies. The point at the time of his anointment was that Robbie was not an Australian. Six years on, FitzSimons stands by his argument that an Australian should coach the national team.

    He is quick to add that such was the manner in which Robbie embraced Australia, both the country and its people, his resistance is no longer valid where the last Wallaby coach is concerned. Robbie, FitzSimons declares, is half Australian. He still will be, even if he gains the All Blacks coaching job at some stage in the future.
    This is something the best-selling author believes should be inevitable, saying New Zealand rugby would be “crazy” to ignore a man who has already proven himself to be one of the best operators in the business.

    Robbie is genuine and has fantastic values, FitzSimons says. And his legacy is a good one. In time, the Sydney Morning Herald columnist believes, it may be seen that Robbie actually overachieved with the Wallabies, when the quality of playing ‘cattle’ he had at his disposal is taken into account.

    FitzSimons played in an era marked by some of the great on-field leaders in Wallaby history. Halfback Nick Farr-Jones and lock John Eales, both of whose career biographies he ended up writing, rate among the most outstanding and successful skippers the Wallabies have ever had. Flanker Simon Poidevin, first five-eighth Michael Lynagh, hooker Phil Kearns and second five-eighth Tim Horan are other strong-willed leaders who are FitzSimons’ contemporaries.
    Robbie, he argues, had no leaders of that ilk on which he could call. Not even close.

    Leadership, FitzSimons believes, was one of the biggest single defects that prevented the Wallabies from pushing on to overtake the All Blacks after they had reeled in everyone else.

    Given the FitzSimons’ stance towards his recruitment, it was probably an appropriate completion of the circle that it was with him that Robbie shared a morning coffee prior to his post-Lions meeting with the first-year ARU chief executive Bill Pulver. The series debrief, which had originally been scheduled for the Thursday following the third Test, was brought forward by Pulver to the Monday. The Wallaby coach was notified of the diary adjustment early on during the series.

    The change did “trigger a flag” at the time, although Robbie says you have to trust that those you are dealing with are acting genuinely. He was informed at the meeting that his contract was being terminated with immediate effect.

    While the loss of the British and Irish Lions series, after the Wallabies had capitulated in the deciding Test 36 hours earlier, was used as justification for Robbie’s removal, the background dealings at play became clear quickly.

    Within 24 hours of Robbie’s exit, Pulver was introducing Ewen McKenzie as his successor and admitting publicly that the incumbent was going to be terminated regardless of the outcome of the third Test.

    Pulver later indicated to the press at McKenzie’s unveiling that Robbie’s termination had been determined even before the Lions series began.

    This was followed by press revelations that the ARU had solicited not just McKenzie, but also the ex-South African and Brumbies coach Jake White as well, with a view to inserting one of them in Robbie’s place. In White’s case, an interview had been conducted in Melbourne, just a third of the way through the Lions series.

    Robbie is philosophical as he looks back on the affair. He refuses to allow the manner of his exit to tarnish what was a challenging yet enjoyable assignment coaching Australia. It provided a great deal of personal growth.
    If anything, it was the circumstances associated with the loss of the series to the British & Irish Lions, rather than his own exit following it, that provides the greatest frustration.

    The Wallabies and Australian Rugby had entered the year promisingly positioned to take the next step towards becoming the game’s most dominant power.

    “2012 had been a challenging year what with the injuries and the addition of Argentina to the Rugby Championship, which had added significantly to the travel burden, but we’d come out of it in good shape,” Robbie says.

    “The players had shown plenty of resilience. Many of them had matured as Test performers in adverse circumstances.”

    Pulver had started off making all the right noises where Robbie was concerned.

    “You never presume anything,” Robbie says, “but one of Bill’s first comments to me when we met off-site before he’d even started in the job was that he understood the history [around the Wallabies staff set-up] and hoped to get into the position where I could appoint my own coaches.”

    The comment suggested that Pulver, at this point anyway, saw a future for Robbie beyond the distance of his immediate contract, which was due to expire at the end of that year.

    “From my perspective, the suggestion that I could gain a bit more direct control over the programme was an exciting prospect. The lack of autonomy had been one of the things that had been holding us back.”

    So too were injuries, but the early rounds of Super Rugby showed that they weren’t going away.

    Starting players hooker Tatafu Polota Nau, blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham and lock Sitaleki Timani were all rubbed off the selection template after suffering injuries playing for their states as was the captaincy contender David Pocock.

    The outstanding flanker was lost for the season after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament of his knee during the first game of the year.

    “We lost a huge amount of leadership with him [Pocock] because he is a bloke who stands up against the tide on and off the field. He’s prepared to do what’s right, he’s got the total respect of the group and he has the ability to be a momentum shifter in-game. Poey can stop any opponent in his tracks. He’s a huge influence and was a massive loss to the playing group.”

    The high injury rate followed them right to the end.

    “Even during the Lions Tests themselves, injuries were a constant.”

    “It was a shame because it was evident that this team’s time was coming,’ Robbie says. “We were building depth and the adversity that the team had been through was only going to enhance our growth. We just needed to get to a point of continuity in terms of player availability.”

    The practice of withdrawing Test players for preparation purposes had been standard procedure by the hosts on each of the previous three Lions tours where Australia (2001), New Zealand (2005) and South Africa (2009) had all gone on to win the series.

    In both 2001 and 2005, the home side had arranged a warm-up match to help bring their combination together. This option was unavailable to Robbie due to the extension of the Super season.

    The request around player availability required a sacrifice from the state programmes in the interest of the national side to enhance the Wallabies’ prospects of success against the Lions.

    For New Zealand and South Africa previously, the concept had been a no-brainer. In Australia, nothing is so simple.
    Hindsight shows that this issue provided the first sign that the support for the Wallaby coach from the ARU heavies wasn’t all it seemed.

    “The programme had been well communicated and understood, dating back long before Bill [Pulver] had started,” Robbie says. “But while the board made the right noises, it never got to the point where they had a firm stance on it.

    “We were able to name a protected 25, but the ground rules then changed pretty much straight away, with the situation being dependent on the circumstances at the time the group was due to actually assemble.”

    “The lack of a clear stance around the protected player group raised the first doubt for me as to whether Bill was making all of his own decisions. If he wasn’t, all of the dialogue between us was going to be futile.”

    The lack of clarity around player access only adds to the evidence that movement towards a coaching coup was under way well before the Lions series started. Assistant coaches Tony McGahan and Nick Scrivener [who had not been appointed by Robbie] had secretly met with Pulver. The pair must have been surprised when Pulver promptly informed Robbie of their activity.

    Scrivener ultimately survived the regime change to retain his position on the coaching staff while McGahan found himself a job coaching the Rebels.

    Subsequent revelations from forwards coach Andrew Blades about a number of clandestine meetings involving players during the lead-up to the third Test highlight the distraction Robbie’s impending removal created. Players were aware, as were members of the coaching staff.

    A number of players who were involved at the time preferred not to be named when approached by the author to confirm and expand on the Blades allegation.

    They believe it had played a part in the Wallabies performance, or lack of, in the series decider. Their argument was based on the history, where the team had always responded when the pressure was on their coach. There was also resentment at the involvement of certain players in the movement to oust Robbie, pursuing an agenda to gain an outcome from which they expected to benefit.

    The passive nature of the Australian performance in the third Test was all the more surprising given the strength of resolve that had been shown to come-from-behind and win in Melbourne the previous week, and the fact that the series was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    Robbie is unsure as to the role the speculation around his own future played in the minds of his players.

    “Only the individuals themselves, be they players, team staff or union administrators know what was going on through that time and what role, if any, they played in it.”

    A total lack of alignment ring-fenced this episode. It had openly spread to the team the following morning when it gathered prior to disassembling in the afternoon.

    McGahan had made prior arrangements to return home early and didn’t attend. O’Connor also didn’t front. He was sacked by the ARU later in the year for being intoxicated at Perth airport the morning after a Test match. Some players got quite emotional with Robbie, which indicated their knowledge as to his fate, after he had made what was to be his last address to them as Wallaby coach.

    As he had done the first time he had spoken to the players as Australian coach, five years earlier, Robbie urged them to push on, in this instance when they returned to Super Rugby. He noted that they were all up for reselection for the Rugby Championship, himself included.

    Perhaps the best indicator of what had gone on was the mood. The body language among some of the players was notably poor.

    “What probably summed it all up was the contribution of the leadership to that meeting,” Robbie says. “The only thing that they offered was to ask whether there would be cab charge cards available to cover the cost of transport from the airport to their homes!”

    It was clear that some of the players couldn’t get away quickly enough.

    “It was underwhelming,” Robbie says of the ARU’s conduct in the lead-up to and through his final campaign.

    “It’s not something that I have experienced a lot of where the interactions aren’t genuine. I suspect they were meant to be, but there was intervention from other parties. There was always that possibility in a situation where you had someone [Pulver] who was new to the industry and had no background.

    “Ultimately, it all rests on alignment both in purpose and actions. I aspired for the Wallabies to enjoy more than aberrational success. To make it to the number one ranking and to stay there.

    “That requires everyone to buy in. The leadership comes from the top, in this case the ARU, and flows down through the various stakeholders at every level. The same collective purpose.

    “The best and most successful outfits, be they sporting or business, have that. We never did.”

    Despite this, Robbie got the Wallabies to second in the world and kept them in that position for just short of three years. Results in the immediate aftermath of his departure quickly put that achievement into perspective. McKenzie’s Wallabies lost all three games to New Zealand and never looked a winning chance in any of them while also crashing to a first ever loss to South Africa in Brisbane.

    Red, Black & Gold – the Robbie Deans story, is published in Australia by Hardie Grant. It is authored by Matt McIlraith, who as All Black, Wallaby and Crusaders media manager, has observed much of Robbie’s career first hand. This gave him both up close insight into the man and the coach, but also unrivalled access to the game’s top players and personalities.

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    The Crowd Says (235)

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 3:52am
      Carlos The Argie in the USA said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:52am | ! Report

      It is interesting that in Richie McCaw’s autobiography, he mentions that her was asked by the NZRU after the 2007 fiasco if he preferred Deans or Henry. McCaw was coached by both and probably spent more time with Deans. McCaw say that he told them he preferred Henry. That to me says a lot.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:03am
        Patrick D said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:03am | ! Report

        MCaw also said they were both good coaches. From memory, i think McCaw preferred Henry because he was more collaborative and Deans was more of a single man in charge.

        But it doesnt necessarily mean McCaw thought Deans was a bad coach or that you need to infer too much.

      • Roar Pro

        October 2nd 2014 @ 6:33am
        sesenta y cuatro said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:33am | ! Report

        Sorry to correct you but what McCaw actually says is that while Henry vs Deans would be a fair contest, Henry + Smith + Hansen vs Deans + no one knows could never be.

        It is true that after he speaks highly of the culture and dialogue that Henry encourages and compares it positively to Robbie Deans, but it is also true that McCaw says that Henry had to learn to be like that (after being principal of an education institution full of polynesians, according to his book) and that Robbie Deans had already shown in the past he also could learn and in fact he did it in 2005 in the Crusaders.

        Finally, McCaw always speaks highly of Robbie’s rugby knowledge and how he was mentoring him during the Super Rugby years…

        After reading the book I got the feeling that McCaw felt that while Robbie was a good coach, Henry was a notch above.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:46am
          Carlos The Argie in the USA said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:46am | ! Report

          I agree with the reading you both did. My interpretation is that Richie preferred the collegial or collaborative approach of Henry and felt Deans a bit more of a “loner” (my way or…).

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 7:16am
            Kane said | October 2nd 2014 @ 7:16am | ! Report

            The quote “if Deans had a good assistant he wouldn’t last, if his assistant lasted he wasn’t good” adds to the my way or the highway view.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 1:15pm
          Phil said | October 2nd 2014 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          I read his book and agree with what you say about the coaching team of Henry,Hansen and Smith being preferred to the unknown assistants of Robbie,plus he said a big factor was the unfinished business following their 2007 RWC exit.He certainly compliments Deans on many other coaching attributes and you don’t have so much success together without some level of respect.
          I think too much was made of the McCaw supported Henry so didn’t think much of Deans way of thinking.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 2:32pm
        Common Sense said | October 2nd 2014 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

        The only negative thing Richie said about Robbie was his man management and his reluctance to be challenged. So Richie organised a meeting between himself, Rubern Thorne and Robbie and it went a long way to alleviating those problems.

        Everything else Richie says is all positive and respectful of Deans and his coaching knowledge and skill.

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 3:58am
      Redsback said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:58am | ! Report

      Teflon Robbie – nothing sticks to you, mate?

      The key reason for losing that series was, and remains, Deans’ unpreparedness to select Quade Cooper. In the end, his poor management of that situation and inability to put personal differences aside for the benefit of the team meant that he had to go.

      For mine, it has been a positive change. We will have a better idea of how positive after the RWC.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:24am
        maximillian said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:24am | ! Report

        When you look at the input from the senior players about cab fares, you get to see the tripe Robbie had to deal with. QC was toxic to the Wallaby environment at that time so you can hardly blame Deans for not selecting him.

        McKenzies current record is 11 wins from 20 matches?! That includes 0 wins from 5 against the ABs & 1 win from 4 against the Springboks. Hardly a “positive change” IMO.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:42am
          Redsback said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          It’s pretty clear that he was referring to his pre-Lions camps. Given that Quade was only invited to the group of 50, it’s probably fair to say that it wasn’t him. I would also think that even if he was there, he would have been keeping pretty quiet given the recent history.

        • Roar Guru

          October 2nd 2014 @ 8:12am
          Train Without A Station said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:12am | ! Report

          Includes 0 losses to Ireland and Scotland.

          It’s a change to consistent performance. Deans wins against NZ never lead to a Bledisloe Cup. They were a part of a roller coaster ride of form.

          It’s McKenzie’s second season. We have consistently defeated teams below us, and have improved in our results against teams above us during his time.

          If we defeat Argentina, perform strongly against NZ and win 4/5 in Europe it will have been a good year.

          • Roar Guru

            October 2nd 2014 @ 8:34am
            Red Kev said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:34am | ! Report

            I’d argue that it has to be a clean sweep EOYT, but essentially I agree, we are moving towards consistency, it’s just that it isn’t at the level Australian fans (myself included) want – which is consistently beating the ABs.

            • Roar Guru

              October 2nd 2014 @ 1:32pm
              Rob na Champassak said | October 2nd 2014 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              A clean sweep of the EOYT is not a reasonable expectation. When was the last time we had one?

              • Roar Guru

                October 2nd 2014 @ 1:40pm
                Red Kev said | October 2nd 2014 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                History is irrelevant – we almost had one except for a very dodgy touch judge call against England last year. If the Wallabies are serious and improving then a clean sweep NH tour is required – I won’t be convinced by dropping one game, they need to show they can take England in England.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 3:42pm
                All Bent Out of Shape. said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

                There was more than one dodgy call in that game and that particular one was one of many for either side.
                Didnt cost Australia the game imo.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:26pm
              redder than kevin said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

              Your on the money there RK. We are moving towards consistancy. The boys put in a great effort last weekend and we are consistanly beating top level sides.

              Mckenzie is the man

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:49pm
              Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

              Red Kev, I agree with you … every team the Wallabies play on the EOYT are ranked below the WB’s for that reason I feel that it is a reasonable expectation but of course easier said than done.

              Mate as for ‘consistently beating the AB’s, what do you define as consistent… 50% or better? big call mate.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 2nd 2014 @ 8:13am
          Dandaman said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:13am | ! Report

          And JOC was not toxic? I think this is a personal thing between them and RD made his decision in his interest and not in the teams interest.

          • Roar Guru

            October 2nd 2014 @ 8:20am
            Red Kev said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            I think RD is a coach who picks on what he judges as rugby talent, tries to get the best players on the paddock and then believes that the fundamentals of the game and the structure / plans that he coaches will get them over the line.
            In that respect it is hard to argue that JOC is not a more talented footballer than QC.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:07am
              Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:07am | ! Report

              Red Kev, a very fair assessment in my view. I thought JOC was THE most talented back in the Wallabies squad but I was so disappointed in him for his immaturity, it actually turned me off him.

              I think success came to him way too easily (such was his talent) and way too early in that he was not mature enough to handle success to the point I think he felt he was bigger than the game.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:02am
                Carlos The Argie in the USA said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                The biggest memory I have of JOC was when he chased down the irish guy in the RWC. He was awesome! Terrific and gutsy. His personality appears to be a different issue.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:25am
                Farmer said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                Yeah I thought JOC was our best back at RWC 2011

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:13pm
          Ruckin' Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          “When you look at the input from the senior players about cab fares,…….”

          You get the idea that Cooper might have been spot on when he talked about a toxi culture.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:13pm
            Ruckin' Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            Toxic culture that is 😉

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 2:54pm
              mutley said | October 2nd 2014 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

              Taxi culture?

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:41am
        Mike said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        “The key reason for losing that series was, and remains, Deans’ unpreparedness to select Quade Cooper”

        No it wasn’t and it doesn’t. Cooper’s performance in tests prior to the Lions series had not been impressive, certainly not up to the standard he reached in 2011, and prior to his injury. Yes, Cooper MAY have made a difference, but there is no particular reason to think so, except by those who consider him to be a God … 😉

        There is no evidence that Deans was motivated by “personal differences” – that is a revealing comment by those uneducated fans who took a personal dislike to Deans because he didn’t select the players they considered the best.

        “For mine, it has been a positive change. We will have a better idea of how positive after the RWC”

        Nice attempt at evasion – you can’t handle the truth that we know already what difference the change has made – virtually none. McKenzie appears to be on track (more than 12 months later) to finally reaching parity with Deans’ performance, and he may then improve on it, but we simply have no idea if that will occur.

        And as for RWC, are you serious? In order to improve on Deans’ performance, McKenzie’s Wallabies will have to (a) reach the semi-final) and (b) win the semi-final. On current performance, there are serious doubts whether they can achieve (a), let alone (b).

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:08am
          Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          Mike there was always a pro Cooper and anti Cooper camp … both parties will not accept the others viewpoint.. a lot of ink on paper has been devoted to that subject.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 7:33pm
            Mike said | October 2nd 2014 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

            Yeah there’s a lot of truth to that RT.

            On the “positive” side, the injury rate in Australian rugby these days is such that, sooner or later, everybody gets a run!

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:17pm
          Ruckin' Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          Hey Mike – as I recall it JOC was a disaster at fly-half for the Lions tour. A below form Cooper may still have been a better option.

          And Hi Rugby Tragic, Cooper has always been the type of character that inflames strong emotions and people aren’t always the most logical when emotional

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 4:04pm
            All Bent Out of Shape. said | October 2nd 2014 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

            Cooper may have been better but that is after the fact.

            You have 2 players, 1 has underperformed, been inconsistent and has caused distraction and undermined you in public and behind closed doors. The other is picked by 5 of the top 6 coaches by consensus as the best option.

            Who do you pick?

            Did Deans get it wrong? No.
            Did Deans selection perform? No, not well enough.

            Quade should not have been picked. Even if Quade had been good in gold there was enough reason not to pick him considering JOCs sacking from the squad.

            Deans picked a guy that as voted as the best option by the Super Rugby coaches. How can anybody say that it was a crazy selection knowing that?

            It clearly wasnt a bad selection but clearly JOC failed to play well enough in the spot.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:58pm
              Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:58pm | ! Report

              All Bent – when RD chose JOC. I actually saw it as an inspired selection as he defends well, great on his feet, not a great passer (though gave a gem for AAC to score) competent kicker both off the tee as well as in play, maybe I was over read the situation. Then ‘on reflection’ maybe he should have had a couple of games there first (at test level I mean, not for Rebels) – there is not a lot of time in the FH position and a lot of traffic is channelled there, some big mothers too!.

              To me it ended as a failure but as you say that is after the event.

              Just like Beale in the start of TRC. The Wallabies hadn’t beaten the AB’s for a while, they had to try something. OK that didn’t work out either but at least Link had a crack.

              • October 3rd 2014 @ 3:45pm
                Common Sense said | October 3rd 2014 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

                The problem for Robbie and O’Connor is that he had been injured for the entire test season the previous year, he didn’t get any further opportunity to find his feet as a test level fly half other than the EOYT in 2011.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:50pm
            Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            Ruckin’ Oaf – you are correct, however if one REALLY tries to take the emotion out of it, QC’s defence was an issue and having someone to deputise for him in defence while he dropped back into the pocket might have worked in Super rugby level but at test level he was found out. A lot of traffic comes through the halves channel and any weakness their is quickly exploited.

            To be fair to QC, he has worked on his defence and all credit to him. I think that in todays game against the heavyweights like AB’s, Boks and the Poms who are on the way up, it is critical to be unwavering in defence in that position, you just cannot move players in and out and expect continuity. Look what Link did with Beale against the AB’s, he had Horne and McCabe cover for him, but time does not allow the swapping and changing of positions.

            It depends what you want out of your FH as to who you pick. Myself, I like the looks of guys like the 20 year old Handre Pollard for the Boks, to me a younger bigger version of Dan Carter. I personally prefer to have solidarity in that position. Today I would chose Matt Toomua (who actually had a rotten game last week – especially in the kicking department!!) but that is my opinion while respecting the choice of others.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:32pm
              Ruckin Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

              I always though that the counter-attack was one of the big reasons that QC was in the back at Super Rugby level.

              I can remember being at Suncorp Stadium when the Reds played the Auckland Blues in the 2011 semi final. Cooper and Digby cut them to shreds returning the ball, it got so that at one stage the Blues were (unsuccessfully) trying to run the ball out of their own 25 rather than kick to Cooper.

              BUT, as you’ve pointed out, what works at Super Rugby level doesn’t always work in the tests. I also think that Cooper has never been that bad a defender, his big issue is trying to rip the ball from the ball carrier rather than make an effective tackle.

              I think you’re right about what you want out of your fly-half but it’s also what the balance and capabilities of your team is.

              Michael Lynagh was never the most flamboyant fly-half but he had the likes of Horan, Little, Campese etc outside him would could spark plenty in attack. He was also a great tactical kicker when Australia had quite a dominant lineout.

              Stephen Larkham on the other hand could be devastating running the ball in attack and linking with his outside backs but he didn’t have Lynagh’s kicking game.

              Two very different fly halves that managed to be key components of a successful team.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 7:01pm
                Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                Ruckin Oaf, you are correct regarding Lynagh and Larkham but they had a common trait in that they both could tackle. I could not understand why Larkham wasn’t injured more, so slight built and taking the big mothers coming through his channel all the time…. sheesh! … and he has the ability to throw cutout passes as Cooper can but with great accuracy. What he could not do was goal kick.

                It so happens that Toomua is mentored by Larkham which might be an underlying reason I like the guy. That is the style of FH I like to see run a backline, competent in his core duties and predictable to ‘his own’ players..

                As for tackling, Cooper is getting better, for sure, and you have to take your hat off to him but you cannot compare his tackling with that of Toomua. Last weekend defence was not one of Toomua;s failings and it hasn’t been all year but imo it was his worst game in gold his kicking just put so much pressure on the overworked forward pack on defence by giving away possession just about every time.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:09pm
                Ruckin Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

                HI Rugby Tragic,

                As I recall it Toomua made a couple of misses in the Perth Test didn’t he by rushing out of the line ?

                And if you were going to make a comparison of Coopers defence you’d be comparing him to Foley the current fly-half and I think he compares pretty well 😉 Heck there was even a head line at the end of the Rugby Championship last year that Cooper was tackling better than Ritchie McCaw.

                Bledisloe 3 last year (and the spring tour) also showed that Cooper and Toomua in combination seem a lot better than either of them alone.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:53pm
                Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:53pm | ! Report

                Yep Ruckin Oaf, actually not only in Perth but also in Auckland, Toomua rushed up head of the line but on replay I think that Foley was standing too deep.

                My comparison of Cooper’s defence, is his ability to stop an attack in its tracks. Toomua has that ability and I believe to be the best defensive player in the whole backline. You could well be right about his combination with Cooper maybe be superior than that with Foley, certainly at the EOYT 2013 they complemented each other well.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 7:54pm
        mania said | October 2nd 2014 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

        Redsback – what a load of BS. QC said he didn’t want to play in that toxic environment and got his wish. what exactly did he frikn expect? qc wasn’t a team man and so the team were better without him
        deans has been gone for 3 years and what the fk has qc done in that time? nada. deans saw he was crap way back then and time has shown that he was justified. how many tests has mckenzzie won vs nz in the last 3 years? nil.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:58pm
          Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:58pm | ! Report

          Hmmm 3 years? Getting ahead of yourself mate,… try 15 months…

          • October 3rd 2014 @ 4:22am
            mania said | October 3rd 2014 @ 4:22am | ! Report

            sorry 2 seasons. with one to go that i cant see the wobblies winning.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:29pm
        wardad said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

        One missed kick away from winning a Lions series ? And Mackenzie has contrived to lose almost half of his games and turning around a winning percentage vs the Boks.
        Yes just wonderful that is,but the sneaky back stabby behaviour of Pulver and his cronies denpotes a lack of character from the top down .

      • October 3rd 2014 @ 3:08pm
        markie362 said | October 3rd 2014 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

        Its interesting that when robbie deans was sacked al ost everyone was stoked em got the things are not much better u all want cheika.maybe aus dont have the cattle.not the coaches fault.

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 4:15am
      s.t.rine said | October 2nd 2014 @ 4:15am | ! Report

      NO Redsback. We’ll know before RWC – at end of year tour against Poms, Frogs, etc
      The acid test is coming for McKenzie especially if injured players start.
      S T,

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 4:20am
        Redsback said | October 2nd 2014 @ 4:20am | ! Report

        That’s rubbish. If he were to lose every end of year tour but then win the RWC, no on will care in a year’s time how he went on the end of year tour. The job will be his for four more years if he wants it.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:28am
          Sorted said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:28am | ! Report

          You really think this Wallaby team has a realistic chance of winning the RWC?

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:42am
            hog said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:42am | ! Report

            So the 3rd ranked team in the world doesn’t have a chance at the RWC, whats the point of holding the bloody thing.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:59am
              Sorted said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:59am | ! Report

              They might be 3rd ranked team, but I’d give the English a better chance than the Wallabies. The French probably also, based solely on the fact that they seem to get there or there abouts without actually playing well in the leadup to the tournament,

              I just don’t rate this Wallaby team, and I’m not sure they deserve their 3rd place. They are playing the 12th ranked team in World this weekend, and have every chance of losing.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:45am
                canadiankiwi said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:45am | ! Report


              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:40am
                kiwihaydn said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:40am | ! Report


              • Roar Guru

                October 2nd 2014 @ 12:26pm
                Combesy said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                france? the same team we dusted 3 nil without getting out of second gear? give it a rest. Kiwi’s are still yet to win a world cup away from home. A top 4 nation will win it

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 4:08pm
                All Bent Out of Shape. said | October 2nd 2014 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                No, France wont be the same team you dusted 3 times in a ro 15 months late just like they wernt the same France that creamed Aus 15 months earlier.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 1:24pm
                Phil said | October 2nd 2014 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                How about we wait until what team we put on the park before making ridiculous predictions,one way or the other.In 2003 we did not perform that great until we knocked over the mighty AB’s in the semi and then took the supposedly greatest English team to ever set foot on a rugby field to extra time in the final.Who knows what will happen next year?

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:46am
              Mike said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:46am | ! Report

              Hog, I would like to think Wallabies can win RWC.

              But my head tells me there are three major obstacles:

              *England are likely to be motivated in a way we haven’t seen in a long time

              *South Africa are going to be similarly motivated against Australia (unless they have just forgotten about the 2011 QF …!)

              *All Blacks appear to be even more an unstoppable force than they were three years ago.

              But of course anything is possible and I will be supporting and hoping all the way.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:54am
            Kane said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:54am | ! Report

            Even dropping one pool game which is highly likely could mean they don’t progress.

            To win the RWC you generally have to have three good games in a row.

            Australia are most likely going to have to play well five games in a row.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 7:37am
              Zero Gain said | October 2nd 2014 @ 7:37am | ! Report

              They can still win. It’s rather silly to say they can’t. This year they have already beaten South Africa and drawn with New Zealand, but those facts won’t interest these guys. They only have to win a quarter, semi and final. In 2003 we nearly won after being thrashed by the ABs earlier in the year.

              • Roar Guru

                October 2nd 2014 @ 8:07am
                Two Eyed Cyclop said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:07am | ! Report

                WRONG!!! ZG. Firstly they have to get out of their pool, and that is not a given looking at the strength of that pool.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:11am
                Kane said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:11am | ! Report

                I never said they can’t?

                I simply stated that even a solitary loss in pool play might be enough to send them packing.

            • Roar Guru

              October 2nd 2014 @ 8:15am
              Train Without A Station said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:15am | ! Report

              To win the RWC, firstly you need to consistently defeat teams ranked below you. Have we done that? Check.

              Secondly you need to pluck 1 or 2 good wins against teams above you at the business end. That’s where the challenge will be for us.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:49am
                canadiankiwi said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:49am | ! Report

                To win the RWC you need a world class forward pack!

                All Blacks, Springboks, England, Ireland have strong packs and a shot at winning.

                Everyone else has weak packs, including Australia, whose tight five are terrible. Yet, most Australians still like to focus on which backline players should start the next Test.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:57pm
                PeteRob said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

                Did you not see the last wallabies test against the springboks..

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:57am
                Ball'n'all said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:57am | ! Report

                If the wallabies win their pool, then they should have a relatively easy run to the final. If they don’t beat england in the pool match then a much harder run of sa(qf) and nz(semi) and eng(final) is likely.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:02am
                canadiankiwi said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:02am | ! Report


                Do not underestimate Ireland who will likely be on that side of the draw. The will be the surprise team of 2015 RWC as Wales were in 2011 and Argentina in 2007.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 2nd 2014 @ 5:20pm
                The said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                Ireland Please!

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:15pm
                Kane said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                @ Ball’n’all

                If they don’t beat england in the pool match then a much harder run of sa(qf) and nz(semi) and eng(final) is likely.

                If they don’t beat England they had better hope England beat Wales, the last thing you need is a three way tie coming down to bonus points and F/A

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:13am
      John Rugby said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:13am | ! Report

      I think people are very quick to forget the mess that Deans inherited, the Wallabies under Connolly were an absolute embarrassment, playing terrible, directionless rugby. Although the drop to 5th in the world rankings was temporary, it was probably a fair representation of the team at the time.

      Deans on the other hand transformed the group-clearly not enough-but it certainly was a big transformation, and he also developed from what FitzSimmons rightly calls a lack of quality cattle, some brilliant individual rugby players.

      I think that “Link” is the right man for the job right now, but any success he manages from this point is heavily indebted to the work that Deans did.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:54am
        Justin3 said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:54am | ! Report


        • Roar Guru

          October 2nd 2014 @ 8:09am
          Two Eyed Cyclop said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          Love the way you rebuffed JR’s arguments, but could you keep it short next time?

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:32am
            Rollaway7 said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            Justin is a QC fan, so has to hate JOC and Deans. Whats funny is all the QL fans who hated JOC now have him in their beloved team. Funny as I think he is going to lift the reds next year.

            The Wallabies during Deans was packed with reds players, so you have to wonder how much the players gave to Deans in the end. The funny thing is you give for your country, something QC won’t know about. People forget how poor QC was leading upto the BI lions.

            I feel sorry for Deans, even at the worst of times he has never blamed the players. Ewen does that a lot.

            The points about leadership in the article was heart wrenching.

            Good luck Robbie, I am sure you will get the chance to show who is the better coach.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 3:20pm
              Ruckin' Oaf said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

              Hey Rollaway7,

              I’m a Reds fan and I think JOC was a good buy.

              Although if he is selected as the first choice fly-half for the Reds then I’d certainly think that was a mistake.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:57pm
                All Bent Out of Shape. said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                JOC is playing excellent at 14 for Toulon

            • October 3rd 2014 @ 4:09am
              Rob G said | October 3rd 2014 @ 4:09am | ! Report

              Robbie Deans has more class in his big toenail than mckenzie has all up.

            • October 3rd 2014 @ 5:44am
              Justin3 said | October 3rd 2014 @ 5:44am | ! Report

              Suggest you read Train without a stations post below and get back to me.

              As I said, rubbish…

      • Roar Guru

        October 2nd 2014 @ 8:21am
        Train Without A Station said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        You are quote misleading facts mate.

        In September 2007 Australia were ranked 2nd. Due to RWC outcomes being weighted more heavily a single bad lost cost us 3 spots.

        In 2007 we were 1 from 2 against both the AB’s and the Boks. We also won 75% of games. Hardly a mess. Even if you take out the minnow games against Japan and Canada we still won 7/10 and did not lose at home.

        Once again. Hardly a mess.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:28am
          jogs said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          RWC2007 came down to one game where the usual suspects like Vickerman, Palu, Sharpe & Elsom didn’t turn up when the heat was applied at the forwards. Those four have a history of going missing when it gets tough up front in tests.

          It also didn’t help that Australia had Greg Holmes injured, who was in pretty good form, and the likes of Dunning and Shepherdson were starting props.

          They were one mimssed penalty away from snatching the win right at the death. It was like 2011 in that respect, but unlike 2011 Australia weren’t the better team on the day.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:58am
          canadiankiwi said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          So, in other words , Australia dropped to 5th in the rankings at the end of 2007 under Connelly just as John Rugby correctly stated.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:04pm
            soapit said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            maybe he should have stopped at that and we could all agree

          • Roar Guru

            October 2nd 2014 @ 3:08pm
            Train Without A Station said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

            Is 5th a fair representation of a team that went 1-1 to the winners, and to NZ?

            Saying we were 5th ignores that fact based on long term results, not a single game in a knock out tournament we had been 2nd with a 75% win record – which is better than everybody else barring the All Blacks going into the World Cup.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 3:39pm
          NickF said | October 2nd 2014 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          I would call the 2007 RWC a mess for the Wallabies.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:41pm
            Magic Sponge said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

            Gregan stuffed the 2007 world cup. Wallabies worst world cup

            • October 3rd 2014 @ 6:49am
              Bakkies said | October 3rd 2014 @ 6:49am | ! Report

              Gregan conceded scrum penalties in front of the posts?

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:52am
        Mike said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        I can’t agree with that, John Rugby.

        Connolly suffered from the comparison with Rod Macqueen. But the reality is that all four of the coaches that followed RQ have produced similar performances. They all had their different strengths (Jones and Connolly had a better record vs NZ, Deans had a better record vs Boks, McKenzie has his 8 straight wins against NH teams etc) but really, overall there is little to choose between any of them.

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:05am
      stu said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:05am | ! Report

      So that’s why genia dropped the ball from the kick off.

      If players actually sought to lose like in Pretoria 97, you’d have to hope they would not be still wallabies.

      Is it really that we have poor cattle ir is it that our cattle have a poor attitude? I think the obsession in this country about bloody x factor in the backline
      is part of the problem.
      We saw this year, cheika build a team with a common goal and respect for each other as well as themselves. My concern is EM is more political than practical.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15am
        Bakkies said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15am | ! Report

        Poor attitude has a lot to do with it.

        • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:58pm
          IronAwe said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:58pm | ! Report

          Totally agree. And that’s why I feel so sorry for Matt Hodgson, probably the best attitude towards Australia and the Wallabies out of the whole lot of them, best stats in his position for the year in SR, and isn’t in the run on team. 33yrs old too, what else can he do?

          • October 3rd 2014 @ 6:51am
            Bakkies said | October 3rd 2014 @ 6:51am | ! Report

            Given his limited amount of time with the Wallabies spread over a number of seasons I am not sure how you can say he has the best attitude towards the Wallabies in the squad. Super Rugby I will give you that one.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:44am
        Rollaway7 said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Stu this is the main reason I like Cheika, he has changed attitudes. You can see it in the faces of Tahs players in the Wallabies when things go wrong, they look devastated.

        I remember his first year in charge running out to the field getting the water boys off and telling the players to push on.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 5:37pm
        All Bent Out of Shape. said | October 2nd 2014 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

        Cheika did nothing special.
        His team was all international players and the best squad in Super Rugby along with the Sharks and Saders. They played to their potential at times.
        Big deal.
        Well done to the Tahs but Cheika had, comparratively, one of the best squads in Super Rugby history.

        • October 3rd 2014 @ 12:28am
          bennalong said | October 3rd 2014 @ 12:28am | ! Report

          Stick to commenting on something you know about

          The Tahs had performed so poorly the fans had booed them in the season before Cheika arrived

          In two years Cheika took them from losers to grinners with a pivot and a fullback who’d never played super rugby.

          He pulled in a Boks leftover who became a cult hero and help toughen up the backrow so they could bash the chiefs the Brums and the ‘saders.

          He also restored Kurtley Beale to a game busting second pivot .

          Above all he gave rusted on Tahs fans their first premiership…….after 19 years.

          He would never, NEVER, use his players as scapegoats, or demote a plyer who had done nothing wrong.

          He welded a team of blokes who cared more about not letting down their mates than being stars.

          Watching McKenzie squander their talents after selecting so many for the Wallabies is galling.

          • October 3rd 2014 @ 1:01am
            Magic Sponge said | October 3rd 2014 @ 1:01am | ! Report

            I agree how Link ruined the Cheika legacy was quite amazing. Cheika gave Link the method to win

            • October 3rd 2014 @ 9:04am
              Red Menace said | October 3rd 2014 @ 9:04am | ! Report

              Could we also say that Link gave Deans the method to win in 2011?

    • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15am
      Coconut said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      I tend to agree with those that say Deans was an excellent coach, and his credentials are hard to argue with. I think the larger question was whether he was the right ‘fit’ as the coach for the Wallabies. His is an autocratic style, which requires everyone to buy in to his vision and philosophy. It was a major reason in why he did not get the AB job – he didn’t name any assistant coaches, and didn’t appear to view this as necessary. The more austere autocratic style suits the Kiwi mentality much more, as they are far more willing to pitch in for the ‘team effort’, and do whatever it takes in that regard.
      Aussie rugby, rightly or wrongly, has this reputation of player power (e.g. Brumbies), and a far more looser culture as the players are concerned. It seems to be reflected in the way they play rugby, with more focus on loose play rather than set piece (maybe the wrong perception I have there).
      I know this subject has been done to death, but I tend to agree the Deans installed development systems, and structure which hopefully left Aussie rugby in a better position than when he found it. I don’t think he was given much credit for this. Also, if beating the ABs is an expected deliverable for any Aussie coach, then there would not be many to meet that standard, and by that measure, McKenzie should be looking for a new job by this time next year. Unrealistic expectations, instead of focussing on consistency and player development. Just look at the difference between the coaching and management set up of the All Blacks and Wallabies in this regard. I notice the talk about the ABs being ‘over the hill’ for the World Cup has abated somewhat… Because they have very sensible player development systems in place.

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:07am
        nickoldschool said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        Very good post Coconut. Agree that his autocratic style was probably not ideal for such a job especially considering you have to wait on the sidelines from December to June to get your players at training. Interacting with SR coaches, the public, players etc, was also not is forte and at the end I think there was a lot of misunderstanding between all parties.

        Still think very highly of him though as he is one of the few in this line of work who has kept his integrity.

      • Roar Guru

        October 2nd 2014 @ 8:18am
        Train Without A Station said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        So well said

      • October 2nd 2014 @ 8:24am
        Lassitude said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        ” It was a major reason in why he did not get the AB job – he didn’t name any assistant coaches,” not true.

        The AB coach shootoff was specifically about the coach – that was what was clearly reported and clearly advertised by the NZRFU. No coaching team just Henry v Deans v Foster v Cooper. It was not a team v team thing. In fact the NZRFU said that there was no guarantee that the chosen coach would get to pick their own coaching team – this was clearly communicated via the press.

        Except that at some point this changed and Henry had his team all ready to trot out (makes you wonder who chatted to who – or is that Tew chatted to who ) and Deans now did some fast talking with Cooper (who he’d worked with before ). The process was deliberately slanted.

        • Roar Guru

          October 2nd 2014 @ 8:37am
          Red Kev said | October 2nd 2014 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Wasn’t there a story a few years ago that Deans felt when he walked into the interview that he was simply going through the motions – that the decision was already made and he didn’t really have a chance.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 9:13am
            Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 9:13am | ! Report

            I think it was the other way round.. it is rare that an AB coach is given ‘a second chance’ after their demise in 2007, I think Deans had it in the bag… might be wrong but seem to recall the event unfolding a bit like that.

            • October 2nd 2014 @ 10:10am
              Highlander said | October 2nd 2014 @ 10:10am | ! Report

              RT – that’s what I heard at the time, Robbie presented like he was walking into the job

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 12:40pm
                richard said | October 2nd 2014 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                Deans was up against it.It’s well known that Deans and Steve Tew didn’t see eye to eye,so his chances of getting the top job was unlikely.That and McCaw and other senior players pushing for Ted to keep his job.

              • October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15pm
                Rugby Tragic said | October 2nd 2014 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                Richard. imo, the final decision it had nothing to do with McCaw and nor do I think its was Tew’s sole decision (though the angst between Deans and Tew would not have helped).

                I believe that when the NZRB supported Ted and allowed him virtually free hand to try and win that damn Web Ellis Trophy running up to 2007, INCLUDING the much talked about (and hated at that time), ‘rotation policy’, they burnt a lot of resources – to not give Henry another crack I think would have been ‘admitting they had made a mistake’ …….. I reckon extracting eye teeth would have been easier.

                If Henry could redeem himself (and no one could have said he was a bad coach in spite of the 2007 disaster), then the board who appointed him got off scot free…… it must have been almost a no brainer, then when Deans fronted up ‘without a plan on his support crew’ I think he made it easy for the board. … anyhow that is my view for what it is worth.

          • October 2nd 2014 @ 1:43pm
            Lassitude said | October 2nd 2014 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

            He walked into a subsequent interview to find that it wasn’t so confidential after all. THere was an audience – including Tew and Shand; neither of them had anything official to do with the process.

            I’d say they were concerned how close their boy (Ted) was from being beaten.

            In the end they got a good team. But really the typical corporate bs smells. Ted was hardly a nice guy and easy to work with in his younger coaching days but he matured – and so has Deans.

      • October 3rd 2014 @ 3:29pm
        markie362 said | October 3rd 2014 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        I think deans also developed a squad instead of a frontline 15players

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