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Judgment day for Deans

Date

Owen Finegan

There is mounting pressure on Wallabies coach Robbie Deans after the mercurial Quade Cooper's comments about the toxic environment within the squad, coupled with declining performances from the national team.

Another loss this week against Argentina will see even more fans of Ewen McKenzie coming out of the woodwork.

Even the most impartial Wallabies fan would have to be worried about the decline in their team's performances. Last year's Tri Nations champions have now also lost their No.2 IRB ranking and tomorrow face an Argentinian team yearning for a taste of victory.

Despite the mounting injury toll on the Wallabies, there can't be any excuses. The team still looks strong enough on paper. I think what's required is an attitude change.

Tomorrow is a great opportunity for some of the players who have been on the periphery to stand up and be counted.

The players must understand the honour of representing Australia and rip into the opposition with ferocity because you don't want to let your mates down.

In rugby's short professional history it has proved where there is smoke there is fire.

The first signs of player dissatisfaction with Deans surfaced last year with his tumultuous relationship with Matt Giteau and his subsequent non-selection for the World Cup. Now recent revelations from Cooper have added to speculation of discontent within the Wallabies squad. Another loss could dilute the support that Deans has with the powerbrokers of Australian rugby.

This was the case with successful coaches when player dissent at the Waratahs led to McKenzie being replaced after leading them to the Super Rugby finals. David Nucifora was replaced at the Brumbies after winning a Super Rugby title.

Coaches at all levels of success are susceptible if they lose the support of their senior players.

Player dissatisfaction with the performance of former Western Force coach John Mitchell led to him being shown the door as was Andy Friend after player unrest at the Brumbies. A coach's previous record and reputation counts for nothing when they start to lose the support of your players.

There is a lot riding on this match. After an ordinary loss to South Africa and with media intensifying over Cooper's comments, the pressure on the Wallabies is mounting.

The Argentinians grow another leg when they play at home. They showed that against South Africa, where they were unlucky not to win.

I was involved in the last Wallabies squad beaten in Argentina in 1997. They talk about the Munster fans in Ireland being the 16th man, in Argentina they also have a 17th.

The atmosphere can be very daunting if the local crowd get a sniff of victory. It will be a case of backs against the wall and coming out all guns blazing.

Owen Finegan played 92 Super Rugby matches and 56 Tests

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