Robbie Deans’ failure to lead Australia to a series win over the British and Irish Lions was last night expected to result in the coach’s sacking. Ewen McKenzie was lined up to be named as Deans’ successor.
Deans was appointed as Australia’s first foreign coach and the 53-year-old New Zealander had a contract until the end of the year, which would include the Wallabies’ season-ending northern hemisphere tour. But the Australian Rugby Union was looking unlikely to wait with two years left until the 2015 World Cup.
McKenzie, who coached Super Rugby side Queensland Reds to the southern hemisphere title in 2011, was set to be appointed Wallabies coach until the next World Cup.
“One of the things we do at the end of a series like this is a review and that will be part of the review,” the ARU chief executive, Bill Pulver, said. “We’ll start that this week. It will be imminent. We need a brief cooling-off period to observe what happened.”
Prior to the series-deciding Sydney Test, Pulver said Deans’ future would not hinge on the result of the Lions series, fuelling speculation that his fate had already been sealed.
Softly-spoken and unfailingly cagey, Deans has never endeared himself to a sceptical Australian public weary of New Zealand’s domination of the Wallabies over the past decade. Although given a contract extension prior to the 2011 World Cup, Deans faced almost immediate calls for his sacking when Australia exited at the semi-finals, a performance most pundits Down Under regarded an under-achievement.