Australia Rugby
ARU backing Deans to deliver
ESPN Staff
December 11, 2012
Australia coach Robbie Deans celebrates victory over England, England v Australia, Twickenham, England, November 17, 2012
Robbie has the support of the ARU © PA Photos

Australia head coach Robbie Deans has received the full backing of the Australian Rugby Union despite some vocal discontent with the New Zealander's performance among the media and the fans.

Deans is heading into the final year of his contract with the ARU and has come under pressure this season for the Wallabies' inconsistent displays on the pitch, which has included a 33-6 thumping by France this autumn and a 9-6 defeat to Scotland in June.

However ARU chairman Michael Hawker insists the former All Black retains their confidence ahead of a crucial 2013 season, which includes the visit of the British & Irish Lions for their three-Test tour.

''From the Australian Rugby Union, we're happy with where the Australian team is, Hawker said. ''We'd like to have less injuries and I think if we didn't have as many injuries, we would've been right at the top. Next year is a huge year with the Lions making a once-in-12-year journey down here.

"Having just come from the northern hemisphere, people are hugely excited over there to be here. It always creates a huge wave of anticipation seeing the best of the northern hemisphere come here. We're pretty keen to try and thump them. They're going to be a very competitive side and we're going to be a very competitive side and I think it's going to generate plenty of interest.

''I think the coaches think of every year as make or break … I don't think Robbie takes anything for granted. For us, I think everyone in the Australian public are keen to win all the games and so is Robbie. He'll do all he can. In the board's view, we have every chance in defeating the Lions next year.''

Australia have lost five of their 15 matches this term, averaging just a try a game, and dropped to third in the International Rugby Board rankings behind South Africa. However they finished a largely disappointing and tumultuous season - during which Quade Cooper slammed the "toxic" environment in the Wallaby camp - with narrow victories over Italy, England and Wales.

And Hawker is optimistic there is a lot more to come from Deans' Wallabies, especially when they get the likes of David Pocock, Will Genia, Quade Cooper and James O'Connor back from injury.

''You've got to put the Wallabies' performance in context with how many injuries we've had,'' Hawker said. ''We've had 55 people play for the Wallabies this year which is a pretty poor number of players, so we've had an unusual level of injury rate.

''That's something we're looking at as to why that occurred and how we might be able to do about that. We can actually improve the better player management process between the ARU and the Super Rugby franchises to make sure the player welfare is managed right collectively across those two levels of the game.

''When you've got a team that has playmakers such as [Will] Genia, [James] O'Connor, [Quade] Cooper, [David] Pocock and [Kurtley] Beale, who didn't play the whole year … If you took [Dan] Carter and Richie McCaw out of the New Zealand team, you'd have a different proposition. We had five major playmakers out of our game and we had a pretty good record.''

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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