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Campese out of order but Robbie still rankles


Spiro Zavos

Robbie Deans.

Robbie Deans.

YOU KNOW when you've put both your rugby boots in your mouth when Wendell Sailor tweets this to you: "Well good morning to u Campo & I have to say u are on your own with this comment it's 2012 champ."

The offensive comment by David Campese was this: "Why does the smh get a girl to write about rugby. Growden who was a great jornio and now we have someone who has no idea about the game."

Campese later told The Roar: "My point was that if we had someone over in Europe covering the Wallabies who'd been in the job longer, like Growden, then we'd have had a tougher line … Deans isn't doing his job … "

What Campese wrote about Georgina Robinson, Fairfax Media's rugby reporter, was sexist (for which Campese has apologised), and inaccurate about Fairfax Media's rugby coverage.

Robinson doesn't write opinion pieces. Paul Cully (on Mondays and Fridays) and myself (Saturdays) do the commentary and analysis.

But when all this detritus is scraped away, Campese is raising a valid rugby issue: should Robbie Deans continue into 2013 as the Wallaby coach?

This discussion gives me the opportunity to praise the work of Greg Growden over 30 years as Fairfax Media's chief rugby correspondent. He was the leader of the journalistic rugby pack. He broke great stories, with a punch-up of touring Welsh players at an official dinner being a standout.

His profiles were fascinating. He wrote outstanding match reports, columns and analysis.

Robinson's reporting has won high praise from The Guardian's Breakdown column this week.

So Campese's complaint about Deans getting a soft run has been directed at the wrong target. But it is a valid issue that is splitting Australian rugby. Wayne Smith in The Australian is an unrelenting critic of Deans. His colleague Bret Harris, who is covering the tour, is a Deans supporter.

I have supported Deans's record as well, for reasons that were spelt out by the Welsh coach, Warren Gatland, (and the coach of the British and Irish Lions next year) in an article by Robinson; "It's a bit hard when you win the Tri Nations last year, you finish second in the (Rugby Championship), you finish third in the World Cup and you're number (three) in the world and people want you out … they've been missing a lot of key players and I think they'll get a lot of benefit from being able to blood some of those (new) players."

Some of the 13 new Wallabies in 2012, such as Nick Cummins, have established themselves as potential starters. Gatland's argument about the forced introduction of new blood giving a depth to the Wallaby squad makes sense. You would have to admit, though, that Campese has a point when he argues that the Wallabies have achieved their victories by grinding out victories.

The All Blacks have scored about three times the number of tries this year than the Wallabies. But what do you expect when Will Genia and James O'Connor, the two world-class playmakers, and two captains James Horwill and David Pocock have been injured?

There is some irony that Campese's criticisms are swirling around Deans and that the Welsh coach is defending him. Wales arrived in Australia in June as the Six Nations champions. They lost all three Tests. Last weekend they were manhandled by the All Blacks 33-10, their second-worst ever result at home.

The All Blacks are complaining about fatigue. The Wallabies have played a Test more than the All Blacks this season. Fatigue also is their enemy tonight. Supporters, however, are looking for one last effort to achieve three successive Test victories and a launching pad into the 2013 season.

8 comments so far

  • Fantastic to see the Wallabies grind out a last ditch win.It's great that Nathan Sharpe went out with an unbelievable win to cap off an astounding career.I know most die hard Aussies will never accept Robbie as their coach regardless how his record stands.I look forward to the day when they drop Robbie as he deserves to go where he will get a decent.And by the way Campo might go on about Robbie but lets remember in his playing days he costed alot of tries, especially against the All Blacks.Yes I am a Kiwi Robbie Deans supporter and will back Robbie any day.And just as another person who uses his mouth and things come back and bite in the you know where.Steve Hanson commented how great the All Blacks are and look what happened to them and the scoreline.Remember Robbie has had to use young guns who have stood up to the task and will one day make a dynamic team and guess who will get the praise for all the ground work being done NOW.I leave you with that.

    Date and time
    December 02, 2012, 9:49AM
    • Hi Spiro,
      As former Wallaby great Matt Burke said in the final wash-up, we really did get out of jail in this one, because the match honours did rightly belong to Wales. But what really impressed was when Mike Harris came on – and who many have ridiculously prematurely written off as an ineffective player for the Wallabies – and was inexplicably handed the kicking duties, considering Beale by then had his eye in and was slotting our penalties, in the build-up to our match-winning try when Barnes threw that terrific pass (thank god he didn’t stupidly put boot to ball as he had for most of the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half – for mine Harris’s absolutely impeccable pass – one of those "without looking" passes a-la the All Blacks – to his right-hand support Dave Dennis was the real key to setting up Kurtley Beale’s sensational try, even though looking at the photo finish as Beale dives over the try-line with ball wisely cradled under his right arm, the Welsh winger No.14 Alex Cuthbert coming across in cover comes within a tantalising four inches it appears from almost dislodging the ball Gregan-style from Beale’s grasp before touchdown. Naturally it was fantastic to see our warrior hero Nathan Sharpe exit on a winning note, and personally I’ve always enjoyed Wallabies v Wales encounters. Could watch another one tomorrow.

      Date and time
      December 02, 2012, 1:37PM
      • Deans and Gatland are great coaches surrounded by Galahs. I bet these two are so good that they could have taught Campo to tackle.

        Date and time
        December 02, 2012, 2:58PM
        • they are good. but are they that good?

          Date and time
          December 03, 2012, 11:42AM
      • Spiro, your position on Deans has always had me perplexed. I don't buy the injury line. He had all the above players for the World Cup, and ruined it with a game plan that was simply dreadful. He has continued on in the same vein. Why, when we had to run the ball in the last 4 minutes of the Welsh game, did we look so good? When Brian Moore, the grizzliest of English hookers, laments the decline of imagination in Australian rugby you know it must be bad. I suspect it's friendship with Robbie that is holding you back Spiro. His awful percentage rugby is the antithesis I thought of everything that you have praised in rugby over the years. We do have the players - we need someone who believes in them to let them play.

        Date and time
        December 04, 2012, 12:30AM
        • Sounds like a bit of fence sitting to me. Deans simply must go there is nothing to it. This is not a conspiracy to get Mackenzie the job in fact I would rather him stay and look after the reds for another 10 years!!

          There are a number of reasons he must go. His team selection is woeful with massive changes made every week even tho we have had no more injuries in a very long time. All rugby teams must go through this. England has made more changes than the Australian team and they just beat the AB's. Maybe we need to change our game plan from the predictable boring play we have used since the RWC!! Examples are both against the Welsh team (who deserved to win last weekend) when we played our natural instinctive running game for the runner up of the RWC and the last minute of last week, we looked exciting! This comes down to team selection and a positive running Australian game plan, none of which Deans has. He is a great coach and has proven himself but its time to go.

          Date and time
          December 06, 2012, 6:22PM
          • Spiro - incorrect use of a reflexive pronoun:

            Paul Cully (on Mondays and Fridays) and *myself* (Saturdays) do the commentary and analysis.

            This should be 'I'. See

            jimmi jjr
            Date and time
            December 13, 2012, 10:58AM
            • I agree Pete. If he can't be replaced he needs to share the load with others. The Wallabies
              attack looks nothing like that of Wallabies of old or Dean's Crusaders.

              Date and time
              December 14, 2012, 12:41AM

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