Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: Where now for Deans? Not here


The Highlanders are a bit of a shambles and Robbie Deans is in the job market. Surely not? Nope, just isn't likely.

A return to New Zealand just doesn't feel like it would be the right for Deans or the right thing for New Zealand rugby. For a start, there is the difficulty of his relationship with All Black coach Steve Hansen.

They are vastly different people - vastly different coaches - and have history to the extent they could never form any kind of happy working alliance should Deans take up a position as a Super Rugby coach in New Zealand while Hansen remains in the All Black job.

The other question is: why would New Zealand Rugby even make a move for Deans?

The All Blacks have spent the last six years walloping the Wallabies for fun. The All Blacks have been better coached, better prepared and better performed. It would seem strange indeed after that for the NZRU to rush out and hire Deans.

On what basis? That he was hugely successful with the Crusaders sometime back in what is now the dim and distant past. It would be all wrong - can't and won't happen despite what speculation arises in the next few weeks and months.

The best move for Deans now would be to have some well-deserved time off to contemplate his options. At 53, he's hardly a spent force. Let's not forget Graham Henry was 51 when he was sent packing from Wales in 2002 - an axing that proved to be the making of him as a coach.

Deans has time to come again, to make a difference somewhere else and prove he is a world-class coach. More importantly, he has the desire, so it would seem, to make sure he does come again.

He wants to stay in the game - coaching is what he knows and, in time, he'll surely reflect on his time in Australia and work out where he went wrong, what mistakes he could avoid making in his next post. And that next post should and probably will be in the Northern Hemisphere where the reputation of coaches is almost impossible to destroy.

It won't matter to the big clubs of France, England, Ireland or Wales that Australia won only 58 per cent of their games while Deans was at the helm. It won't matter to them that after six years, the Wallabies still couldn't scrummage or that they still didn't have a first-five with poise or authority.

Deans is a name with All Blacks, Wallabies and Crusaders experience and that will be enough. That will put him on the shortlist for any and every job that comes up in the next 12 months - be it head coach at a club or even an emerging international side such as Italy, Georgia, Russia ... wherever. That would seem to more likely be his future - well-paid jobs in Europe where he can effectively enjoy an extended OE.

More on Deans:
Three highs and lows of Deans' reign
Deans steps down as Wallabies coach
Chris Rattue: Dire end to reign of out-of-depth Deans
Cartoon: Ask Robbie Deans

- Herald on Sunday

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Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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