Passing the Buck column with QT sports journalist Jay Buchan.
Passing the Buck column with QT sports journalist Jay Buchan. Rob Williams

One last chance for Deans to prove he's the man for top job

AND so Robbie Deans enters the Last-Chance Saloon.

Should the Wallabies lose to the British Lions tonight his time as national team coach is as good as over.

Gun slingers are risk takers and when somebody crosses them, one or the other usually ends up dead.

Deans wasn't willing to take a risk on bringing Quade Cooper back into the Wallabies fold, perhaps because after crossing him Deans decided to end Cooper's life as an international footballer.

The resurrection will only come once Deans' coffin leaves Aussie shores.

Mickey Arthur didn't even get the chance to have a drink at the Last-Chance Saloon, so surprised was he by the timing of his execution.

He thought he was preparing for the main course, when he was booted from the building.

Yet South African Arthur hadn't drawn nearly as much fire from Australians as New Zealander Deans has.

Deans has failed to elevate the Wallabies to the level most Aussie union fans have become accustomed.

Which may not necessarily be his fault.

Except that Deans has more talent and depth at his disposal than his recent predecessors, Eddie Jones and John Connolly.

Deans has a marginally better winning record than either, but Jones took the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final.

Deans hasn't been helped by his stodgy media persona, where every question fired his way seems to be accepted through a thinly veiled contempt for whoever is asking it.

It is a rare thing to hear Aussie rugby fans saying they hope the Wallabies lose to the Lions so Deans gets the boot. Yet that is what it has come to.

The ARU bosses also have the perfect get-out clause in Ewen McKenzie, whose CV is missing just one thing - national coach.

With the Brumbies sitting top of the Super 15 and having knocked off the Lions some may consider Jake White a leading contender as well.

But any neutral rugby follower who watched the Reds lose to the Lions, then watched the Brumbies beat them, will have no doubt who they want to succeed Deans.

The Brumbies game was awful to watch, the Reds game exhilarating.

Aussies care about the way they play, almost as much as winning.

It is one thing Deans hasn't got his head around and why the Wallabies, like the Australian cricket team, need an Australian coach.

From the Eureka Stockade to Ned Kelly and Gallipoli, Australians more readily embrace valiant failure than not having a red-hot go.

Better to die on one's feet than live on one's knees, it seems.

Under Deans the Wallabies have spent too long kneeling in front of opponents, waiting for the axe to fall.



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