By Lee Stace
The end could be nigh for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans after his side’s loss to Scotland.
QUESTION: IS Robbie Deans’ future as Wallabies coach now untenable?
Answer: not quite, but the soft soil he already bears weight upon has now become slightly shakier.
The Wallabies have become the subject of international ridicule after being upset by the unfancied Scotland in Newcastle. People are pointing, laughing and making fun after the world’s second best team (well, that’s according to the IRB rankings) went down to a side that is 10 places back in the queue.
This reverse represents yet another slip-up since Deans signed the tenancy papers for his job in 2008.
The tale of the tape speaks for itself. In 2009, Scotland beat the Wallabies 9-8 in a rather drab contest at Murrayfield, while last year, Samoa shook the rugby foundations when it produced a stunning 32-23 upset in Sydney.
However, the most recent loss to Scotland is the worst of the lot.
As was the case in Edinburgh three years earlier, the Wallabies had enough possession and territory this time around to stitch together the seams of victory.
What’s more, this was a Scotland side which was coming off a disappointing, winless Six Nations campaign in which the only notable thing it collected while passing the finish line was the wooden spoon.
Deans’ loyal supporters and other Wallaby sympathisers will talk about how the side had limited time to prepare. Some may even blame the wet weather.
Quite frankly, those arguments don’t wash. The Wallabies second-string line-up still had enough talent and experience in the form of stand-in captain David Pocock, hooker Stephen Moore, halfback Will Genia, flyhalf Berrick Barnes and wing Digby Ioane to put the under-strength tourists to the sword.
The fact they failed to do so is simply not good enough.
So what does Australia’s recent faux pas on the international stage mean for Deans ahead of the three-test series against Wales?
It puts even greater pressure on the transplanted New Zealander to perform and now gives his growing list of detractors even more ammo to fire when they debate his merits as a coach.
Deans’ record with the Wallabies has hardly been flash. In fact, if truth be told, the bad performances have outweighed the good ones in his five years at the helm. Silly results have become a ritualistic custom, it seems.
Now Australia gets set to face a Wales outfit which is twice the side Scotland is.
Deans’ job appears safe for now. It is simply too disruptive to replace him with Ewen McKenzie just days before the first Welsh test in Brisbane.
But if he loses the series against the Six Nations champion, then you can guarantee the soil he currently stands on will fast transform into quicksand.
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.