Australian Rugby
Gatland empathises with Deans
July 8, 2013
Greg Growden and Alan Jones say Robbie Deans must go

British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland feels for Robbie Deans after seemingly ending his vanquished compatriot's five-year Wallabies reign. Deans is tipped to be axed as Wallabies coach this week, with Queensland Reds' Ewen McKenzie or Brumbies' Jake White in line to take over before the start of the Rugby Championship in August.

Gatland spoke of the agony and ecstasy of Test-match rugby in the immediate aftermath of the Lions' series-deciding 41-16 rout of the Wallabies on Saturday night - "there's no in between" - before expressing empathy for Deans' plight. "I've got a huge amount of respect for what Robbie's achieved in rugby," he said. "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. There's been a lot of criticism. 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 last night. He said he might get to see us in November but that depends on what happens in the next few weeks. I do feel for him and want to wish him all the best. I hope it works out for him."

It appears unlikely it will work out for Deans with the Wallabies, though. The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) had sounded out the Reds and Brumbies about the prospect of McKenzie or White replacing the embattled Test coach, even before the 25-point weekend hammering, and Deans could see the writing on the wall after the Lions ran in three second-half tries to seemingly seal his fate.

Lions Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and George North lift the Tom Richards Cup, Australia v British & Irish Lions, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 6, 2013
Jamie Roberts and George North celebrated the Lions' victory over Australia © Getty Images

Peter McGrath, the ARU chairman when Deans was hired and re-hired in 2011, also had words of encouragement, saying the New Zealander had not received enough credit for his achievements.

"I personally think Robbie is a fantastic human being and has done a great service for Australian rugby," McGrath told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We were No.5 in the world when Robbie was appointed, we rose to No.2 and now we are No.3. The board have to make a decision about how you get to No.1 - that is their task."

Australia next play the All Blacks in Sydney on August 17 - their opening match of the Rugby Championship, which includes South Africa and Argentina.

Deans has had a chequered history of success with the Wallabies with a 58% success rate - winning 43 Tests and losing 29 - and the team's failure to win on Saturday in what was deemed their most important match since the Rugby World Cup 2003 final means he still lacks a defining moment as the coach.

Robbie Deans still remains without a black-and-white defining moment as Wallabies coach © Getty Images

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