Australia coach hits back at David Campese ahead of England clash

06:55 16 November 2012

Australia coach Robbie Deans before the game. Picture: David Davies/PA Archive

Australia coach Robbie Deans before the game. Picture: David Davies/PA Archive

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Robbie Deans today brushed aside comments by David Campese that he has “destroyed Australian rugby,” but admitted he understands criticism of his regime.

Embattled Australia coach Deans is under intense scrutiny due to a roller-coaster season that reached its nadir with last weekend’s 33-6 defeat by France.

England are the next assignment on their European tour and Australia great Campese would accept the hosts retaining the Cook Cup if it meant Deans is fired.

It has been a challenging year for injury-decimated Australia, with Deans awarding 14 new caps, using 41 players in 12 Tests and selecting four different captains.

England are in the rare position of entering Saturday’s showdown as odds-on favourites and will have few better chances to humble their rivals.

“The criticism is fair under the circumstances. We’re not happy with our performance either, so it’s understandable,” Deans said. “People are entitled to their opinion. It’s part of the territory.

“It’s great that David’s passionate about the game still and particularly the Wallaby jersey. But I really don’t want to comment any further.

“Every week there’s pressure, that’s what living in this arena is. It’s not about me, it’s about the team and helping them do what they do.

“This year has been an extraordinary year. There’s been a lot of adversity and some challenges to overcome.

“Along the way the side has shown its character but last weekend we didn’t.

“France was a performance we weren’t proud of and we want to address it. That’s where all our time and energy is going.

“Every week you’re nothing until you’ve proved otherwise. The margins are small in Test rugby.

“If you don’t enter in the right frame of body and mind, you’ll come unstuck.”

One of the most startling accusations from Campese is that Deans has betrayed the ethos of Wallaby rugby.

Previously famed for attacking ingenuity and dynamism that enabled them to punch far above their weight in terms of playing numbers, Australia are now devoid of imagination and bereft of confidence.

Campese has branded their failure to score a try in 177 minutes of rugby as “frightening” and “disgusting”, but Deans insists they have enjoyed their moments in a season that saw them finish runners-up in the Rugby Championship.

“If you’re going on our game against France, absolutely I understand the criticism of the way we’re playing,” he said. “But we’ve also played some unprecedented rugby in the last couple of years.”

A distinguished former Wallaby - not Campese - will present the jerseys before Saturday’s match, with Deans retaining a hard-nosed approach to the most troubled period of his four-year reign.

“I got Campo to do it in 2008 in Durban. And I would love to have him back by the way,” he said.

“You may not believe me, but if you are winning every game or losing every game the job is not dissimilar.

“They are just different challenges. The priorities remain the same and that’s what’s important to the team.”

Deans insists Australia’s objective at Twickenham is redemption.

“We want to feel a lot better about ourselves when we walk off the park. There are a number of things we must do to do that,” he said.

“It was a tired effort against France. We’ve got to have more energy. If we stand and watch the result will be similar.”

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