Deans still trying to unravel All Blacks puzzle
Before signing on with John O'Neill's mob in 2008 Robbie Deans sought the counsel of John Wright.
Wright, a former opening batsman for the New Zealand cricket team who coached India, understood staring at his fellow Kiwis on a sports ground before attempting to accelerate their downfall.
Deans later revealed Wright's message was that tangling with your countrymen was like tussling with your brother in the backyard.
Deans understood it all completely. Now he also understands what it was like for a younger brother to continually get his head shoved into a spiky hedge by a ruthless older sibling.
Five years have passed and Deans is still trying to solve the complicated puzzle of how to undo the All Blacks.
The Wallabies' record against the New Zealanders under Deans is unappealing; 13 losses in 16 matches.
Deans is not a poor coach but his chances of becoming the first to clunk the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1986 look grim.
Perhaps Wright can sympathise. He made India into a competitive force, yet when he was eventually lobbed the keys to the Black Caps he battled.
Deans might wonder whether some of his men, like Wright's, subconsciously look for an escape hatch during tough matches instead of continuing to travel the rough road.
At the Crusaders he had men who detested losing.
There is no doubt the quality of players at Deans' disposal in Australia is less than what the All Blacks can muster but there now appears to be a mental block. Last weekend the Wallabies had their best chance to roll the All Blacks and they blew it.
Word across the Tasman was that after the Wallabies' miserable defeat to Scotland in June, Deans was put on notice. The series win over Wales prolonged his survival but the Wallabies may never regain the Bledisloe Cup under Deans' watch.
That silverware would have been in the forefront of O'Neill's mind when he and Deans inked their deal. It has been a long wait.
- © Fairfax NZ News