Poisoned arrows aimed at Robbie Deans
Within 12 hours Robbie Deans seemed a changed man.
As the TV cameras panned into the Australian coaching box at Eden Park on Saturday night, the light looked to have disappeared from Deans' eyes.
In the second half the Wallabies coach wore a look of resignation as he watched the All Blacks slowly inch their way out of reach whenever Dan Carter lined up another penalty during their 22-0 victory.
The poisoned arrows have been raining down on Deans for some time in Australia and no-one has been firing more than former Wallabies coach Alan Jones.
That constant drizzle of barbs is expected to now be converted into a monsoon.
But when he fronted the media at the team's Auckland hotel yesterday Deans' body language was not that of a broken man.
He spoke at length about his admiration of the All Blacks performance and stated he was proud of his team's defensive efforts.
When asked why the Wallabies could mix so easily with the All Blacks after they had delivered such a comprehensive beating minutes earlier, Deans defended his players.
“To suggest they don't understand and respect the privilege and responsibility they have got is off the mark."
The questioning also swung back towards Deans and how he would handle the waves of criticism that were sure to surge his way when he returned to Sydney.
Having experienced repeated defeats to the All Blacks - this was his 14th in 17 matches since 2008 - he knows how to handle this one. The stock-standard answer was dusted off.
“It is not about me, it is about this group, it is about the Wallabies and what we do. It is great to see the pride in the way these guys took to their work and that will be important to us."
One of Deans' fiercest critics in recent seasons, Jones - even by his standards - was near hysterical in the build-up to the Eden Park test as he called for the former Crusaders coach to be sacked.
Some of Jones' taunts after the Wallabies lost the opening Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney included requests that Deans not bother getting out of bed and that his access to the team bus be blocked.
But the Wallabies now have fresh problems to deal with.
At this rate there is a risk they will finish bottom of the Rugby Championship - they are the only team yet to secure any competition points.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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