All Black coach Steve Hansen has sprung to the defence of his Wallabies rival Robbie Deans, who is under mounting pressure.
Rumblings about the New Zealand-born Deans' tenure as Wallabies coach have been growing since their semifinal loss in the World Cup last year and reached a crescendo following the 22-0 hammering by the All Blacks last weekend.
That heavy loss extended Deans' woeful record against New Zealand to 14 defeats in 17 starts, but Hansen said Wednesday that his former coaching colleague should not shoulder all the blame.
"Just because Australia aren't winning against us doesn't make Robbie a bad coach. He had a great record with the Crusaders, where he obviously had a really good team," Hansen told LiveSPORT.
Deans coached the Crusaders to four Super titles and had Hansen as his assistant when they won in 2000, although the relationship has cooled significantly since.
"I've spent a lot of time coaching with him, he's not a bad coach. Any team that gets his services are going to benefit from it," Hansen said.
"They're still the number two side in the world. He's copping a lot of flak for losing to us, rather than people looking at the bigger picture."
The Wallabies' loss on Saturday was the first time in 50 years they failed to score against the All Blacks. It also meant they had lost the Bledisloe Cup, contested between the two countries, for the 10th straight year.
Media reports in Australia suggest Deans will be replaced if the Wallabies do not win their remaining home-and-away Rugby Championship matches against South Africa and Argentina.
If Deans is replaced, he could take over the Waratahs coaching role, which has been left vacant since Michael Foley announced at the end of the Super Rugby season he was moving to the Western Force.
Speaking on LiveSPORT, Hansen would not be drawn on what might happen to Deans, but did feel his gracious remarks in the wake of the All Blacks’ 22-0 blanking of the Wallabies last Saturday smacked a “wee bit of Robbie covering his backside”.
Asked if Deans was feeling the pressure, Hansen replied: “He's bound to be, he’s got to be. I think the players are too.”
Hansen says he noticed it when he mingled with some of the Wallabies after the game at Eden Park.
“They had the same look in their faces. They were flabbergasted, where do we go next, what do we do next? It’s not a great position to be in when you are like that, because if you've got no answers, you can't actually improve.”
And the former Wales coach believes the Auckland rout was far from perfect and his side could've racked up a much bigger score if they had added more accuracy to their high-paced game plan.
"We made too many mistakes to be overly excited by it," said Hansen.
"But at the same time we did play well and put them under a lot of pressure.
"Although we won 22-0 we could've probably scored another four or five tries."
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