In the spotlight ... Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo: Getty Images
David Campese, the former Australia winger, has lambasted the Wallabies for their inability to score tries and called for head coach Robbie Deans to be sacked. Campese, the most potent finisher seen in the sport at the highest level, flies in to London from his home in Durban today, hoping for the best at Twickenham but fearful for the outcome.
"Deans has destroyed Australian rugby and I want him to go," said Campese, who retired from Test rugby in 1996 after scoring 64 tries in 101 matches. "We've got a team at the moment that can't catch and can't pass. Wallaby teams in the past were never like this. 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."
I just want him to go. He's the worst thing that has ever happened to Australian rugby.
Campese admits to a dilemma as he heads to Twickenham. "Mate, I don't want the boys to lose. I played for Australia and it's clearly hard to go against them, especially when it's against the Poms. But if Australia win, Deans stays. I just want him to go. He's the worst thing that has ever happened to Australian rugby."
Former Australian winger David Campese. Photo: Getty Images
Deans has been in the job for four years and the former All Black passed Bob Dwyer's record of 68 Tests in charge last weekend. It was not an auspicious moment: Australia were thumped 33-6 by France in Paris.
They have stagnated. In the past couple of seasons, the Wallabies have averaged 3.5 tries per game. This year they have managed 12 tries in 12 Tests. Campese used to rag England for their boring rugby. Are Australia now England in disguise?
"Yeah, it's quite frightening, isn't it?" he said. "The boot's on the other foot, eh? The try rate is disgusting. You've got guys in the team who can't pass from left to right. And these are supposed to be international players.
"As for Deans, I just don't know why we had to go and get a foreign coach when we've won two World Cups with our own coaches. Look at how Matt Giteau's been treated. He's sitting down there, playing in Toulon, 92 caps, finished with Test rugby, and all because the coach doesn't like him. It's an ego trip."
Australian fly-half Quade Cooper, who is not on this tour, caused a storm when he went public with his view that the environment in the Wallaby camp was "toxic".
Campese disagrees with Cooper going out on a limb but can find little issue with the sentiments expressed.
"Just look at the body language of the players," Campese said. "It's terrible. They're not having fun, not enjoying themselves at all. There are lots of problems within the team.
"You've got to go out and get people to want to come and watch you play. Ain't happening with us, mate. The skill factor is so poor at the moment. Look at Pat McCabe in the centre. He's not a good passer and he's tipped to be the next captain."
Until last weekend Australia were ranked second in the world, drawing 18-18 with the All Blacks last month. "Yeah, but New Zealand had won all the trophies by then," Campese said. "I know there are injuries but even so. There are no big names there, no one to set the stadium alight. There's something missing. There's no fear factor about the Wallabies any more. And that's a sad state of affairs."
However, former Wallabies captain Michael Lynagh has said it is time for Australians to get fully behind Deans. "We have invested in Robbie, we have made the decision, let's go with him," Lynagh said. "It's very easy just to say get rid of the coach and if they lose on Saturday or lost another game on the tour the pressure would build but really what's the alternative? After this series it's on to the Lions series in June and then you start building for the World Cup."
The Telegraph, London