Deans to coach Wallabies and Crusaders

Unwanted one week and much sought after the next, Robbie Deans will be a busy man next rugby season.

Deans was today confirmed as the new coach for the Wallabies just seven days after being passed over for the All Blacks coaching job when Graham Henry was reappointed to the role.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced his appointment in Sydney, just moments before the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) said Deans could continue to guide the Crusaders in the 2008 Super 14 competition.

The ARU said that after a thorough selection process, involving interviews with six quality candidates, the board resolved that Deans was "the best person for the job".

"Robbie comes with a superb record and I am delighted to announce he will be joining the ARU," ARU chairman Peter McGrath said.

"The ARU board presented the selection panel with a brief to find the most outstanding candidate. We as a board consider this appointment satisfies that objective.

"The Australian public would expect nothing less from us and we see this as a new start for Australian rugby.

"In terms of our playing ranks, we are on the doorstep of generational change.

"We believe Robbie Deans is the man to move us into that new era.

A Crusaders spokesman said Deans would not comment on his promotion to the Wallabies job until he fronted an ARU press conference in Sydney tomorrow.

The ARU said Deans, 48, had signed a contract until the end of the 2011 season - taking in the next World Cup to be staged in New Zealand - marking the first time a foreign coach will been in charge of the Wallabies.

Deans saw off the challenges of five Australians for the Wallabies job - former Wallabies coach and media personality Alan Jones, Blues coach David Nucifora, Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie and Wallabies assistant coach John Muggleton.

Debate erupted this week both about Deans' prospects to get the job and, if he did, whether it was appropriate for him to continue with the Crusaders in 2008 just as he was about to guide the fortunes of one of New Zealand rugby's greatest rivals.

Chief executive Chris Moller said the NZRU board agreed on Wednesday to allow Deans to remain with the Crusaders should he be appointed Wallabies coach.

Moller said this decision was reached "subject to a number of protocols being agreed and the resolution of contractual terms".

"We will work through a process with the Crusaders and with Robbie and his management to ensure those protocols, which are intended to protect the interests of New Zealand rugby, are understood and agreed."

The appointment of Deans sets up an intriguing battle for the Bledisloe Cup with two top New Zealand coaches on opposing sides.

The key clash may well be the one at Eden Park on August 2 when, for the first time, Deans will square off on New Zealand soil against the All Blacks.

The dates for the clashes are:

* July 26, Telstra Stadium, Sydney
* August 2, Eden Park, Auckland
* September 13, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Crusaders chairman Murray Ellis said the Crusaders were pleased with the outcome, which "is the result of a lot of hard work from all parties to reach an understanding that works for everyone".

Moller said while it was disappointing to lose a coach of Deans' calibre to another country, the NZRU understood his desire to coach at the international level.

"In an ideal world, we would be able to retain all of our top coaches in this country but we have seen over a number of years that the depth and talent of coaching in this country means we can't keep all of them coaching in New Zealand and still meet their aspirations for higher coaching opportunities.

"Robbie has made a substantial contribution to New Zealand, Crusaders and Canterbury rugby as a player, manager and coach over a long period of time.

"We believe it is only fair that he be given this opportunity, despite the obvious concern about losing one of our best coaches to another country's national side."

Deans has had an outstanding tenure with the Crusaders, guiding them to four Super 12 titles in seven years before the three-nation competition was expanded to 14 teams this year when his side reached the semifinals.

- NZPA

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