Tuesday 21 November 2017

Deans defiant as axe hovers after mauling

Duncan Bech

Australia coach Robbie Deans has refused to speculate on his future following the Wallabies' 2-1 series defeat to the Lions.

Reports have surfaced that Deans would be fired regardless of the outcome of the series decider at ANZ Stadium, which was lost 41-16, and it remains to be see whether he will be in place when the Rugby Championship begins next month.

Any race to succeed Deans is between Ewen McKenzie and Jake White, but the Kiwi himself has adopted a stoical silence on his position. "Those decisions will be made by others. You don't presume anything in this industry, who knows what will happen?" he said.

Australia captain James Horwill, who was gracious in defeat following the unexpected mauling by the Lions, insists the players are behind their coach.

"Yes we still stand by Robbie. He's contracted as the coach and he's a great coach. Now's not the time to talk about it," he said.

Australia open their Rugby Championship campaign against New Zealand in Sydney on August 17 and whoever is at the helm must rebuild the team's confidence.

Having pegged back a 19-3 deficit, they rallied to 19-16 only to fold in the face of the Lions' onslaught.

"I've got no doubt the boys will regroup. The Rugby Championship is a different competition with different opponents and a different method," Deans said.

"The Lions play a game we're very familiar with and we're very conscious that we had to take them out of their comfort zone but weren't able to do that.

"I've no doubt these guys will respond in the Rugby Championship, they're too good not to. They're a better side than what we saw in that final Test and that's the disappointing thing. We came up well short."

While distraught by the outcome to the series, Horwill has enjoyed his Lions experience and hailed the benefit of the tour to Australian rugby.

"This is what rugby tours are about. This is what rugby's about, midweek tours, touring as a touring party. Personally, I'd like to see more of it, not just from the Lions," he said.

"The whole experience for Australian rugby has been massive. You can feel the excitement this tour has generated – front page and back page of every paper in the country.

"It's just disappointing we didn't capitalise on it. We'd love to have won but didn't and now we'll have to wait another 12 years.

"We're devastated. Maybe one or two guys in the dressing room will get another crack at the Lions – maybe. It's a tough pill to swallow."

Irish Independent

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