Sydney - Former Wallabies skipper Stirling Mortlock 0n Wednesday said he believed coach Robbie Deans was safe from the axe because it would be too hard to replace him before the British Lions tour.
Embattled Deans has been under pressure since Australia's poor Rugby Championship campaign, and Australia's 33-6 thrashing by France in Paris last weekend only made matters worse.
The media have blasted his tactics and bemoaned the Wallabies' inconsistency under his leadership. They next face England at their Twickenham fortress on Saturday in what could be another bloodbath.
But Mortlock said with the British and Irish Lions three-Test series of Australia looming next year, it was too late to replace Deans.
"I think it's extremely difficult when you take into consideration the Lions - which is the biggest thing for Australian rugby outside of the World Cup - is happening three-quarters of the way through the Super Rugby season next year," he told reporters.
"The reality of initiating something like that (sacking him), it would be pretty detrimental to the team and to anything we're trying to build toward the Lions."
Deans overtook Bob Dwyer as the most-capped Wallabies coach in the weekend's game against Les Bleus, having been in charge for 68 Tests. But he has a poor win-loss record, steering the side to just 39 victories.