London - Robbie Deans says he wants to continue as Australian coach beyond the
end of next year and believes the Wallabies are ''just getting
started'' as a group.
Deans also said he remained ''a believer'' in Quade Cooper's talents
and the Wallabies had supported the playmaker during his struggles at
the last World Cup.
The ARU signed a two-year extension deal with the former Crusaders coach
in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which would mean Deans will
continue as head coach until the end of next season.
Since then the Wallabies have lost to New Zealand in the World Cup
semi-final, lost to Scotland in Newcastle, made a clean sweep of Wales
in the June internationals but endured a difficult Rugby Championship
campaign, failing once more to win back the Bledisloe Cup, and losing to
France on their spring tour to Europe, before beating England, Italy
Against a backdrop of unprecedented injuries, the Wallabies finished
the season third behind New Zealand and South Africa on the
international rankings, after two seasons at No 2.
Deans endured particularly intense scrutiny this year but appears to
have achieved enough on tour, finishing the year with nine wins, five
losses and one draw, to subdue critics who wanted him replaced before
the British and Irish Lions tour in June.
Deans said he ''absolutely'' wanted to coach the Wallabies through the Lions tour and beyond.
''[I will] be continuing, hopefully,'' Deans said at the announcement of
the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw at the Tate Modern gallery in London on
Monday. ''This group is just getting started. The exposure of a few
extra players this year has made a big difference to our group … You'll
see it first in Super Rugby [then] they'll all want to be involved in
the Lions and there's a lot of great rugby coming and we've got a group
who are becoming experienced and starting now to work their way through
some of those moments of adversity, so they're starting to show some
really good traits. And most importantly those traits are about 'team'
and those ingredients are good. It's competition, the resilience they're
starting to show and the commitment to each other they're exhibiting.
It doesn't happen overnight.''
Deans also weighed in for the first time on the Cooper controversy,
saying he hoped the Reds No.10 would return to the Wallabies, that he
would be welcome there, but the decision came down to Cooper.
''It's about what he wants to do, he's shown previously he's perfectly
capable of playing at that level,'' he said. ''As a coach you don't
allow [Cooper's criticisms] to come into it, you can't.''
Deans defended the Wallabies' treatment of Cooper at the Rugby World Cup
last year. Cooper, then the first-choice five-eighth, was booed
continuously on the field in New Zealand and his performance appeared to
suffer from the attention. In recent speculation about Cooper's
future, his experience during that tournament and the team's lack of
support was cited as a major reason for the playmaker's unhappiness.
''To be frank I don't want to pore over history, obviously it was a
tough time for everybody. We all at the time did everything we could to
ensure that it was a good experience. We stood right alongside Quade,''
Deans said in response to claims Cooper was hung out to dry. ''Let's not
forget I'm the bloke that picked him first and continued to pick him,
continued to back him. I'm a believer.
''The critical thing with Quade is that he's got to decide what he wants to do. Once again it's got nothing to do with me.''
Deans also conceded criticism of his coaching, some of which has
bordered on xenophobia, had been tough to bear, particularly for his
''You've heard me say before it's not about me, it's about the playing
group. Sure I don't live in a bubble, I'm aware of it, and more
importantly my family and friends are, it's probably hardest on them
because they get no ability to influence what happens,'' he said.
''At least I'm fortunate enough and privileged enough to have the
opportunity to work with the group. There's no such thing as an easy
moment in the game, but that's why we do it, that's what makes it