Deans' job on the line
Robbie Deans (AFP)
Sydney - The clock is ticking for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans who has four Tests to turn around their fortunes or face the sack, Australian media said on Monday.
Deans is under increasing pressure after Australia's 22-0 hammering by the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday, extending their miserable record against New Zealand to 14 defeats in 17 starts.
It was the first time in 50 years the Wallabies have not scored a point against their trans-Tasman rivals dating back to a 3-0 defeat in Dunedin in 1962, and followed their 27-29 loss in Sydney the previous weekend.
"Deans rapidly running out of time after latest Kiwi debacle," wrote the Sydney Morning Herald.
"The Australian Rugby Union will continue backing Robbie Deans, but patience is wearing thin," said their chief rugby correspondent Greg Growden.
"Don't start thinking the ARU will dump Deans this week, or even next, despite his atrocious record against the All Blacks.
"But if the rot continues in the final four matches of the Rugby Championship against South Africa and Argentina, Deans's five-year reign in charge of the Wallabies will end.
"Ewen McKenzie is the man who should take over."
The Australian newspaper took a similar line saying: "D-day for Deans edging closer."
"Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has four Tests to save his job," it said.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph issued a similar warning, saying that "high-level discontent is bubbling ... and more defeats in the Rugby Championships could spell the end."
Deans was forced to deflect questions about his job after the Auckland setback, and chose to praise his opponents.
"They're a side that's playing with the confidence of being world champions and I don't think there's any side in the world that would have footed it with them," he said.
But he admitted the latest blow would do nothing to silence his critics, notably former Wallabies coach Alan Jones, who has said Deans is "not up to it" as an international coach.
Australian Rugby Union chief John O'Neill, who has been one of Deans' staunchest supporters and was instrumental in appointing him, said it was too early to talk about firing him.
"We're profoundly disappointed to have lost the Bledisloe Cup, but the reality is we are just two games into the Rugby Championship," he told reporters over the weekend.
"It was our stated ambition to win the Bledisloe Cup after 10 years. We didn't achieve that, and the aim is now to win the next four games.
"So speculating on coaching position is not appropriate."
Australia next face South Africa in Perth on September 8, before hosting Argentina at the Gold Coast the weekend after.