Australia coach Robbie Deans gets mixed reviews ahead of England clash

Wallabies coach prepares team for Cook Cup clash at Twickenham on the back of disparate views from past greats Campese and Lynagh

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 3:04am


Robbie Deans has been a divisive figure in Australian rugby ever since the New Zealander was appointed to coach the Wallabies four years ago. And heading into today's Cook Cup clash with England at Twickenham, Australia greats David Campese and Michael Lynagh are in deep disagreement about the former All Blacks full-back's merits.

Australia, renowned for running rugby, come into this match having gone nearly three hours without a try, a run that includes both a dramatic 18-18 draw with world champions New Zealand and last weekend's crushing 33-6 defeat by France in Paris.

Not only did Australia concede a penalty try to France from a scrum - something that will not have escaped the attention of England's forwards - they were also outplayed with ball in hand. For Campese, who scored 64 tries in 101 tests, it was all too much to bear.

"Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"Anyone who knows anything about Australian rugby knows what it's famous for - loops, angles, switches, counter-attack, creative play. Where's all that gone? We can't even pass properly," Campese added.

Deans - who has this year awarded 14 new caps, used 41 players in 12 tests, and selected four different captains - responded on Thursday by saying: "It's great that David's passionate about the game still and particularly the Wallaby jersey.

"But I really don't want to comment any further. It's not about me, it's about the team and helping them do what they do.

"France was a performance we weren't proud of and we want to address it."

Lynagh, who starred alongside Campese in the Australia team that beat England in the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham, was in a more forgiving mood, highlighting the loss through injury of several key players including outstanding openside David Pocock.

"We do miss Pocock, Will Genia and James Horwill because they are all Wallaby captains and you need that kind of experience at test level," Lynagh told the London Evening Standard.

"It would be great to have a few other attacking weapons around to take the heat off [fly-half] Kurtley Beale. I do believe Deans is a good coach and he hasn't turned into a bad one overnight."

Digby Ioane's return may give Australia an extra cutting edge this weekend, with the wing one of four changes made by Deans.

Ioane will be up against a powerful wing in Chris Ashton, whose return from suspension is the only change to the England side that beat Fiji 54-12 at Twickenham last week, where sloppy errors that stronger sides will punish were offset by seven tries and full-back Alex Goode's growing assurance as an auxiliary playmaker.

Two years ago, Ashton scored one of the great Twickenham tries when he ran nearly the length of the field in a 35-18 victory over Australia.

Victory for England today would be a huge boost to the 2015 World Cup hosts chances of acquiring a top-four ranking that will give them a leading seeding at next month's pool draw for the global showpiece.

"We will need to step up [against Australia] and our training this week has reflected that," coach Stuart Lancaster said.