Coach Deans's focus on players as Wallabies beat England
LONDON - Wallabies coach Robbie Deans insisted the 20-14 win over England at Twickenham had been a triumph for his players rather than a personal success after he’d been accused of “destroying Australian rugby”.
The damning accusation was made in the build-up to Saturday’s match by Australia great David Campese following the 33-6 thrashing inflicted by France on the Wallabies in Paris last week.
“Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go,” Campese told the Daily Telegraph as he launched into a withering critique of the New Zealander.
“Anyone who knows anything about Australian rugby, knows what it’s famous for — loops, angles, switches, counter-attack, creative play. Where’s all that gone? We can’t even pass properly.”
But the Wallabies certainly passed better than England although, as Deans’s detractors will point out, that is not saying a great deal.
“Any result at Twickenham is significant, it doesn’t come easily here,” said Deans, full-back in the New Zealand side beaten 15-9 by England at Twickenham in 1983, after Saturday’s much-needed victory.
“I’m very pleased for the lads and the way they played — they did it not me, as I’ve said before.”
Australia ended a run of more than three-and-a-half hours without a Test try when right wing Nick Cummins crossed for his maiden one at this level in the 35th minute.
They then fell behind to a questionable try by Manu Tuilagi, awarded to the England centre by the video referee when it appeared he may not have grounded the ball on the line, and were 14-11 down at half-time.
However, recalled full-back Berrick Barnes — who kicked 15 points and controlled open play with a series of astute chips — restored their lead in a second half where England, spurning kickable penalties didn’t score at all.
What made Australia’s performance all the more impressive was that they were without several first-choice players through injury.
But one of those ‘stand-ins’, Michael Hooper, was named man-of-the-match after a dynamic display in place of world-class openside flanker David Pocock.
“We’ve used a lot of players this year, had 13 or 14 new caps, but blokes have been thriving off it and responding to the opportunities that have been presented,” said Deans, whose appointment in December 2007 saw him become the first non-Australian to coach the Wallabies.
“As I said recently, we’ll get the benefit of it.
“It was a much better effort than last week, no doubt about that, but it had to be. A big part of the adjustment was mental.”
Australia’s scrum, long regarded by many England fans, if not team management, as a weakness and pulverised by France, held up well with fit-again prop Ben Alexander anchoring the front row.
“That was a necessity,” Deans said of the improved set-piece. “Benny scrummed very well for a guy who’d had a couple of weeks off, he took to it like a duck to water.”
Hooper insisted Australia’s display, which saw them regain the Cook Cup, had come as no surprise to him.
“We are capable of performances like that every week. There’s no science to it, it’s just turning up and doing an 80-minute performance and getting that consistency for that 80 minutes. We are good enough to do that every week.”
Australia continue their tour of Europe away to Italy, thrashed 42-10 by world champions New Zealand on Saturday, next weekend.
They then round off their trip against a Wales side who, having already lost to Argentina and Samoa this month, next face the All Blacks .
Worryingly for the Azzurri and the Welsh, Australia’s forwards and backs combined well against England, with Wallaby scrum-half Nick Phipps making the most of the slicker service from the pack.
“Credit to the blokes who gave him (Phipps) the platform, because that was the biggest difference between this week and last week,” said Deans.