Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Deans stayed stoic in final days as Aussie coach


There was a late dip, a look at the trapdoor under the executioner's noose for Robbie Deans, but for most of the Lions series he was the same stoic bloke we have watched coach for the last 17 years.

While his Wallaby side went through their usual parabolic form graph, Deans ploughed on. He had a job to do.

Deans bounced in bright and bushy to Brisbane from the Wallabies' training camp as he eagerly pushed the merits of his new-look side and their hopes for a strong series against the Lions.

Even after a spluttering start including a less than virtuoso performance from first five James O'Connor, there was no flinch from Deans, no sign he was in any doubt about his side or their chances.

They had their chances and not quite nailed them. Only two changes came in Melbourne with the injured Digby Ioane and Berrick Barnes gone.

Dean's demeanour stayed intact even with the midweek O'Connor and Beale shenanigans before the Wallabies edged home by a point in an error-filled test.

There was no excuse needed from the Wallabies, they won the test, they could now win the series, and with that, perhaps Deans could make a plea for this job.

The demerit points had risen - performance, style, player behaviour, sponsors' feedback, supporters' uncertainty - but the Wallabies could win the series and perhaps offer Deans another podium to argue for his retention.

Strangely Deans, after declaring George Smith was unfit for the second test, included him a few days later for the decider. Good decision but unluckily for Deans on a night when his team also lost Israel Folau, Smith was ko'd early.

So was the scrum and when the Wallabies' finger in the dyke approach wilted late, they were drowned by the Lions.

Deans was sluiced out too into the muddied ARU waters. His troubled look and comments about the uncertainty of international rugby coaching and decisions to be made by others, hinted at an assessment about his future.

As he had done for chunks of his work with the Wallabies especially with their repeated inability to share results with the All Blacks, Deans stayed calm if a little detached.

He or someone attached to his mouth, answered the inquiries in an impassive tone.

Deans did not give much away, there was little emotional connection to the public.

On Monday he and ARU boss Bill Pulver negotiated an exit, did the $400,000 early severance deal, and Deans rode off into the sunset with his senses tuned for his next contract.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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