Rugby: Deans must prove himself in Europe

By Jim Morton

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images

Robbie Deans rightly says the Wallabies will benefit from the adversity of their rocky Rugby Championship campaign but the question still remains whether he'll be around to reap it next year.

Injury-ravaged Australia's scrappy yet highly-admirable 25-19 win over Argentina in Rosario on Sunday guarantees Deans will stay in control as coach for the last five tests of this year.

After a third Bledisloe test against a full-strength All Blacks side aiming to equal their record winning streak of 17 on October 20, he will then take the Wallabies to Europe for a four-match spring tour.

The results and their play - against France, England Italy and Wales - will then determine whether he can fight another day and lead Australia against the Lions next year.

A 3-1 return should keep him safe while a failed 1-3 campaign is unlikely to be tolerated. The last time a depleted Australian squad went to Europe and won just one test, in 2005, Eddie Jones was sacked.

Behind the four-yearly Rugby World Cup, Lions tours are the biggest, most-anticipated events on the rugby circuit and the Australian Rugby Union will be desperate to ensure they have a team brimming with confidence.

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie isn't campaigning for the top job but he is an obvious successor who has proven he can orchestrate immediate reversals of fortune.

With an unprecedented amount of injuries robbing Deans of more than half of his best 22-man squad, a host of rising rookies have gained valuable test experience in the 10 tests thus far this year (six wins, four losses) to ensure depth will be stronger in 2013.

"Obviously we've experienced a fair amount of adversity but we'll get the benefit from this time," a beaming Deans said after the gutsy Rosario win.

A 3-3 record in the Rugby Championship and a second-place finish in the tournament shouldn't be sneezed at but also shouldn't be celebrated.

The fact remains the Wallabies never challenged the All Blacks in their two opening matches - continuing a frustrating decade-long Bledisloe Cup drought - and that was before the bulk of injuries hit.

Since then they split their matches with the erratic Springboks and scored tense wins over Argentina.

The spirit shown in the weekend's success over the Pumas made a mockery of disgruntled playmaker Quade Cooper's claim the Wallabies house a "toxic environment".

In Cooper's place, close amigo Kurtley Beale has stood up brilliantly and now he looms as the main man to rejuvenate them at No10.

Michael Hooper has remarkably filled the big boots of David Pocock while fellow rookies Sitaleki Timani, Kane Douglas, Nick Phipps, Liam Gill, Ben Tapuai and Mike Harris have taken their chances to look like test players.AAP

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