Robbie Deans could still coach in NZ, says Eagle

Retired New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Mike Eagle says former Crusaders and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was underprepared in his bid to be All Blacks coach but he could still have a coaching future in New Zealand.

Eagle stepped down as chairman this year after 12 years on the NZRU board.

He chaired the board panel that reappointed Graham Henry, who was challenged by Deans following the All Blacks' quarterfinal exit to France at the 2007 Rugby World Cup finals.

Asked by The Press if Deans - now the head coach at Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights - would be welcomed back to New Zealand rugby, Eagle said: ''Yes, of course. Robbie's a great coach; he has proven that.

"I know I was intricately involved in the decision to retain the coaches that were there [after the 2007 World Cup] but I was a firm believer that if you want to beat the incumbent you have to be a lot better - not just as good.

''Robbie came into that meeting, really, not as prepared as he normally is. He's usually right on the button. He was told to bring in details of who his assistants were going to be.

''Well, you know, there's two assistants he put up [Pat Lam and Vern Cotter] and neither of them had any international experience and he hadn't been in contact with them. You put that up against a proven team of guys who lost a game for all sorts of reasons.

''We thought against what Robbie was offering, we would give them another shot.

''We talked to senior players as well and I had long discussions with some of them about 'what would you do?' Some of those senior players had been coached by Robbie as well and they were saying 'yep, he is a good coach but the other guys are as well'.''

The Press