Ewen McKenzie will be appointed as new Wallabies' rugby coach as early as tomorrow, according to reports out of Sydney tonight.
The record 41-16 defeat by the Lions over the Wallabies in the city on Saturday night will be the final act in Robbie Deans' controversial reign, as first revealed in the Herald on Sunday. Many will see the loss as the final straw but he would have been sacked even if Australia had won the third test and the series.
Deans' failure to get all of the disparate individuals involved in Australian rugby on board - in particular the talented but flawed Quade Cooper - will ultimately cost him his job. The 53-year-old had six months left on his contract.
Former Australia prop McKenzie's first major task will be to coach Australia against the All Blacks in a Rugby Championship match in Sydney on August 17.
The Australia Rugby Union are said to be keen to act now in order to give McKenzie enough time to mould a team for the 2015 World Cup. The Wallabies' last World Cup ended in a one-sided semifinal defeat at Eden Park at the hands of the All Blacks.
Former Reds' coach McKenzie, who led the franchise to its first and only title in 2011, has seen off the challenge of Brumbies' mentor Jake White, a South African World Cup winner with the Springboks.
Lions' coach Warren Gatland, like Deans a New Zealander, said he empathised with the former Crusaders' coach.
"I've got a huge amount of respect for what Robbie's achieved in rugby," he told reporters on the weekend.
"I know it's been really tough for him being here. There's a lot of people split about whether he should carry on the job.
"It's tough to have a Kiwi involved coaching an Australian side. I admire him for what he's achieved in rugby.
"We often sit down after games and have a chat and a beer together. We had a brief chat (on Sunday) night. He said he might get to see us in November, but that depends on what happens in the next few weeks."
Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said on the weekend that he wouldn't rush into a decision about Deans, but following interviews with McKenzie and White, he appears to have done exactly that.
Pulver said "there has been a lot of emotion and comment expressed from various areas ... we will not be entering into any speculation or debate on the coaching issue at this stage".
Deans presided over 74 tests since crossing the ditch in 2008, leading the Wallabies to 43 wins, 29 losses and two draws, for a winning percentage of 58 per cent.
His record against South Africa was very good - nine wins in 14 tests - but he failed to get consistent results against the All Blacks. In 18 attempts, he managed just three wins. Australia also twice lost to Scotland under his reign.