x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

No rugby respect for Australia coach Robbie Deans

Wallabies rugby coach Robbie Deans is the latest to fall foul of distracted underlings in Australia, writes Paul Radley.

Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans clings to his job as he prepares his team for their most important series in years. Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans clings to his job as he prepares his team for their most important series in years. Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Watch your back if you have designs on a position of leadership in Australia. Judging by the evidence of this week, insurrection is alive and well.

First, Mickey Arthur is dismissed as coach of Australia's underachieving cricket team, having seen his position undermined by a variety of apparently unmanageable players.

Then the prime minister, Julia Gillard, is ousted by her own party and a new man has to be sworn in.

It must be catching. Even the rugby players are at it now, despite being in the midst of their most important series for years.

Robbie Deans, the New Zealander in charge of the Wallabies rugby team, has been seen as a dead man walking for some time now. All it needs, it seems, is a little nudge over the edge and Australian rugby will be done with him.

Some Wallabies players seem more than willing to do the pushing. Between them, James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale cost their side the opening Test against the British & Irish Lions because of their errant goalkicking.

Deans attempted to raise their spirits afterwards, in particular Beale, whom he said had made "quite simply an outstanding return to Test rugby" after his recent problems.

Then they contrived to pull the rug from under their harrowed coach again by being pictured out at 4am in Test week. They were photographed happily smiling for cameras with Lions supporters at a fast-food restaurant after the midweek fixture between the Lions and the Melbourne Rebels.

As misdemeanours go – and each of them have had a few since they first made their names in rugby – it was hardly a hanging offence.

In many ways they deserve to be commended for appearing so amenable with supporters in a day and age when the distance between sportsmen and their public is so vast.

But at 4am? If, as Australian cricket's chief James Sutherland put it, not much good happens in a nightclub at 2.30am, then what about a Hungry Jacks at 4am?

The last thing Deans needed was to be questioned on off-field issues when there is a 1-0 deficit to make up.

"Obviously, that is not an ideal hour" to be out, Deans was quoted as saying at a subsequent press conference. "We've had a conversation, for sure. I understand that they want to keep up with their club mates. They haven't broken any team protocols, as such.

"It's not ideal. They understand but it was too late. Suffice to say it was an uncomfortable conversation for them."

pradley@thenational.ae

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