Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Stunned the Lions and So Can Deans

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Stunned the Lions and So Can Deans

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

JOE ROFF is backing Robbie Deans to defy his many critics and lead Australia to a 2-1 Test series victory over the Lions this summer.

If Roff is correct then it will mirror the triumph he helped Australia achieve against the 2001 Lions, the last time the most famous touring team in the world took on the Wallabies.

It is five years since Deans (below) was appointed coach but criticism of him reached new levels in November following the 33-6 thumping at the hands of France and has continued into the build-up to the visit of the Lions.

Roff accepts that Deans's situation has been complicated by off-the-field problems -- full-back Kurtley Beale is taking a break from rugby to resolve personal issues while fly-half Quade Cooper has been left out of the preliminary squad after claiming last year the atmosphere in the camp was "toxic".

However, the 1999 World Cup winner expects Deans to overcome the issues and said: "Robbie is an extremely experienced and mature coach and while questions are asked about his position, I believe he will rise to the challenge. Just because he is a Kiwi coaching Australia is a shallow argument and tenuous at best and I expect the Wallabies to win the series 2-1 by taking it in injury time in the third.

"Robbie is an insightful coach and has tried to manage and keep these guys focused and there have been unnecessary distractions."

Twelve years ago, Roff scored two tries in the critical Second Test 35-14 win in Melbourne to square a series that had grabbed the headlines when the Lions took the opening game 29-13 in Brisbane with a crowd dominated by the red of their supporters.

The Australian RFU reacted to this unprecedented state of affairs by spending [pounds sterling]65,000 on T-shirts, scarves and hats to ensure the Second Test crowd featured the Wallaby gold. …

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