Deans has empathy for Gatland
Auckland - Australia coach Robbie Deans has sympathised with his Wales counterpart Warren Gatland, who stirred a Rugby World Cup controversy by admitting he'd considered asking a front rower to fake an injury to force uncontested scrums in last weekend's semi-finals.
Gatland said he thought about it in the first half of the 9-8 loss to France after prop Adam Jones left the field injured, then flank Sam Warburton was sent off for a dangerous tackle in the 18th minute.
Asked on Wednesday if he'd ever considered similar ideas, Deans replied: "I haven't, but I've been accused of it."
"If I was in Warren's shoes... I can understand his frustration," he said.
Deans and Gatland, both New Zealanders, will be in opposing roles when Australia meets Wales on Friday in the third-place playoff at Eden Park.
The scrum laws changed for safety reasons in 1998, allowing squads seven reserves - one more than previous - in case of injuries in the front row. Deans was in favour of going to eight-man benches to ensure at least two props were back-ups.
"It's a good idea for the future of the game to ensure that we do have adequate cover for those shapes," he said. "Not too many mothers, to be fair, encourage their sons to start up front, but it's a critical point of difference for the game.
"The other element that would be good, that would come out of it, not just at international level but right throughout the levels, it would mean that you'd be able to give everybody rugby. Everybody trains as hard as each other so to have the ability to give all of those front rowers access to the game would be good."
The front row has long been an area of concern for Australia, particularly against the more powerful scrums.
The Wallabies have played uncontested scrums in Deans' tenure, in 2008, when the Barbarians obliterated the Australia scrum on a woeful, slippery Wembley surface.
In an instant, both props were taken off injured, Matt Dunning with a snapped Achilles' tendon and Sekope Kepu with a torn pectoral muscle. Both were sidelined for many months, so there was no doubt about the legitimacy of those injuries.
Deans was also outspoken on the World Cup's future. This is widely expected to be New Zealand's last chance to host the World Cup because it can't generate the commercial revenue the International Rugby Board needs to derive from its marquee tournament to fund the global game.
However, the enthusiasm and excitement from New Zealanders has ensured the tournament, as an experience for the teams and fans, has been one of the best ever staged.
"New Zealand has done it very well," said Deans, a former All Blacks fullback.
"There was a lot of comment around when they first earned the (hosting) rights but they've done a great job and the countries embraced it. It's been a success.
"The interesting thing for the IRB is, will it ever come back to a place like New Zealand again?
"Given they are probably the preeminent rugby nation right now and have no intentions of letting go of that in the near future, that's got to be a consideration for the governance of the game."
Deans said it was a fine balance between commercial expectations and actual experience of the event.
"What prevails? You ask people who have gone to great expense to visit a country like this, where they do understand it's a rugby destination," he said.
"That's important. You can't just go to a commercial destination for these events all the time.
"But I don't want to go too far, I'll get in trouble."