'Career coach' Robbie Deans now needs team

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
Robbie Deans
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CHRIST'S COLLEGE OLD BOY: Robbie Deans.

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Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans admits the professional rugby coaching "flame still burns".

Deans said he was "starting to fizz up" about a coaching return after taking a break following his axing after six seasons as Australian coach.

The former All Blacks fullback will tomorrow pad up in Christchurch for Todd Blackadder's "All Stars" cricket team against the Crusaders in the annual Cystic Fibrosis charity match.

He is spending a few days at home visiting family and friends and may be back on the Waimakariri River.

"Toddy is quite keen to put a boat on the water at some stage."

Deans was happy to chew the fat about the charity cricket game, the All Blacks and the new book he is writing, but sidestepped the two burning issues: his abrupt exit from the Wallabies job after losing a test series against the British and Irish Lions and his coaching future.

"If you want to talk about that, you'll be disappointed," he said.

But the proud Cantabrian, who resigned from the Wallabies before he was sacked, indicated he's not ready to hang up his coaching clipboard yet.

"I've still got a passion for the game," he said, confirming he still "definitely" saw himself as a career coach.

Since his golden handshake from the Australian Rugby Union with six months to run on his Wallabies coaching contract, Deans has taken his first break from coaching since 1997.

He and wife Penny have been focusing on youngest daughter Sophie's final year at high school in Sydney, culminating in her Higher School Certificate exams.

He went to Dunedin in October for the Bledisloe Cup test and holidayed in Queenstown "and did a bit of boating and spent some time renewing acquaintances".

Deans, who coached the Crusaders to five Super rugby titles between 2000 and 2008, said he had "finally relented" to writing a book on his career.

"I've been enjoying that. It's been a good chance to reflect. I've been coaching non-stop for 17 years, since Sophie was 6 months old. There's a bit to reflect on, including the playing days."

The book is set down for publication next year.

Deans laughed at a suggestion he had been spending his spare time in Sydney, brushing up on his French pronunciation.

He was linked to top French club Clermont Auvergne as a potential replacement for Vern Cotter, Deans' former Crusaders coaching assistant who is leaving to take over the Scotland head coaching job. But Clermont opted instead for Cotter's No 2 Franck Azema.

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Deans, who had three seasons as John Mitchell's All Blacks assistant coach between 2001 and 2003, became the first foreigner to coach Australia in 2008.

The man dubbed across the ditch as Dingo Deans isn't saying where his coaching ambitions will lead him next, nor was he interested in talking about the Wallabies' campaign under new coach Ewen McKenzie.

He was lavish in his praise of the All Blacks for their "superb effort" in becoming the first team to complete a perfect international season since the advent of professional rugby in 1996.

Deans said the All Blacks were "fantastic" in 2013 but said "that last outing [against Ireland] was graphic evidence of how little there is in it" in international rugby now.

He was delighted to see Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read, who he introduced to Super rugby with the Crusaders in 2007, win the international rugby player of he year award.

Read's potential had always been evident, Deans said.

"He had that setback [a ruptured Achilles tendon] before he even started, but nothing was going to stop him doing what he's done."

The annual charity cricket game is close to his heart. "We started with Cystic Fibrosis way back in 1982 in the first outing at Dudley Park in Rangiora."

Deans claimed he couldn't remember his top score in the charity match but he "had a couple of reasonable [knocks] early on, much to the chagrin of the [playing] group".

The match starts at Christchurch BHS in Straven Rd at 11am. Admission is free.

- The Press

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