Jobs in jeopardy but Deans safe

The Australian Rugby Union will consider potential changes to the Wallabies’ off-field staff, including their assistant coaches.

However, head coach Robbie Deans has been assured he will continue to the end of his contract in 2013. A review of the 2011 season written by four former Test players – Brett Robinson, Michael Hawker, John Eales and Mark Connors – has been submitted. It assesses the general health of Australian rugby and includes the 2011 World Cup campaign and provides recommendations where the Wallabies coaching structure can be improved.

The report will be discussed at the ARU board meeting on 24 February and Deans’ assistants are likely to feature prominently in those discussions. Two jobs are vacant after the departure of forwards coach Jim Williams and strength and conditioning coach Peter Harding.

ARU chief executive John O’Neill, however, stressed his full support for Deans. ‘Robbie is the coach for the next two years, but there are clearly others who have ambitions, which is pretty normal,’ O’Neill said.

‘If you’re a Super Rugby coach, and don’t have ambitions to coach the Wallabies, it would be unusual. But two years is a pretty long time in rugby. And it’s not very useful to have a whole lot of speculation about what is going to happen sometime at the back end of 2013. Attaching odds on whether Robbie will stay on, versus Ewen McKenzie, Michael Foley or whoever taking over is just pointless.

‘It is also pointless to be campaigning when you should be concentrating on your day job. There’s no point hitting the tom-tom drums and saying you’re ready, when a decision is two years away.’

Former Brumbies assistant coach, Edinburgh and Scotland A coach Nick Scrivener is in contention for one position, focusing on skills, and is expected to work alongside Deans. Former Test prop Andrew Blades and Munster coach Tony McGahan are also expected to be appointed as back-up coaches.