Deans set to get Wallabies marching orders
Robbie Deans' future as Wallabies coach could be revealed as early as tomorrow as the Australian Rugby Union reacts to a series defeat to the British and Irish Lions which may end his tenure before his contract expires after the end of year tour to the UK, Ireland and Italy.
Never the most demonstrative figure in the aftermath of a test - win,lose or draw - Deans appeared resigned to his fate after a game in which he boldly predicted would showcase the Wallabies "best performance" against the Lions only for his players to be pummelled 41-16 in Sydney on Saturday night.
The first non-Australian appointed as the Wallabies head coach was noncommittal about whether he would be involved in the physical and psychological rebuild required for the Rugby Championship following one of the most embarrassing defeats in a 74-test reign also blighted by losses to Samoa and Scotland.
A third-placed finish at the 2011 World Cup and the failure to regain the Bledisloe Cup he secured as the All Blacks assistant coach in 2003 - objectives when he was signed by John O'Neill in 2008 - had been condoned by the ARU and as recently as last week chief executive Bill Pulver said Deans' future did not hinge on Saturday's night's decider.
However, contingencies had also been explored with the Brumbies and Reds confirming they had been sounded out about the possibility of releasing Jake White and Ewen McKenzie to potentially take over as soon as next month's Rugby Championship.
Pulver and ARU chairman Michael Hawker have kept a low profile after the post-match presentations but the eight-member ARU board, which includes former Wallaby legends John Eales and George Gregan, are understood to have held talks in Sydney yesterday.
A narrow loss, similar to the 23-21 series-opening defeat in Brisbane when Kurtley Beale botched a match-winning penalty, might have given Deans more leeway but crashing to a four tries to one thumping is likely to be seen as unforgivable.
The Wallabies scrum - a weak point when Deans took charge - was again exposed from the opening minute and infringements produced 12 points before tries to Jonathan Sexton, George North and Jamie Roberts breached the Australian defensive structure.
"Those decisions will be made by others...you don't presume anything in this industry," said Deans when asked to ponder his future.
James Horwill, George Smith and James O'Connor were also reluctant to speculate on the likelihood of Deans surviving although the captain did describe him as a "great coach".
Halfback Will Genia was also vague on whether the coach that introduced him to test rugby should be persevered with or if change was required.
"I don't know, I don't have any opinion on that. We'll just see what happens. I don't mean that in a negative way or a positive way."
McKenzie and White were silent on their prospects yesterday though there were no shortage of Deans critics declaring his time was up.
"See ya Robbie!!!" tweeted former wing Lote Tuqiri, who was among several older players phased out by Deans.
David Campese was also hoping Deans would be replaced by McKenzie when posting on twitter: "Deans must go now and Mackenzie (sic) given the top job. Hope we have learnt that we need a Aus coach."
Meanwhile, Lions coach Warren Gatland sympathised with Deans plight.
"I know it's been really tough for him being here, there's a lot of people split about whether he should carry on the job, there's been a lot of criticism.
"We had a brief chat last night, he said he might get to see us in November but that depends on what happens in the next few weeks.
"I do feel for him and want to wish him all the best. I hope it works out for him."