Wallabies great Andrew Slack says the “messiest” fortnight in Australian rugby’s professional history has pushed Robbie Deans’ tenure as national coach close to breaking point.
Slack believes the continued poor performances of the Wallabies, which continued with a 31-8 drubbing at the hands of South Africa on Sunday morning, coupled with the Quade Cooper saga has plunged Australian rugby into crisis.
The 39-Test veteran and skipper of Australia’s 1984 grand slam-winning team told AAP he believed Deans’ role would come under close scrutiny even if the Wallabies can salvage victory in their final Rugby Championship match against Argentina next weekend.
“I think it has been the messiest couple of weeks for Australian rugby in the professional era,” Slack said.
“The amount of players not playing quality rugby is just not good enough. That is the bottom line.
“Fans have reason to expect more of players at that level, to expect better execution.
“Injuries are never an excuse but when you lose players in the course of the game it does make it difficult, but Australia were not playing well before that.”
The Wallabies were decimated by injuries in their loss to the Springboks but Slack said it was clear from his perspective that Cooper’s comments as to the “toxic environment” within the Wallabies camp were not entirely without substance.
“There has been no consistency of selection or style and I can understand as a player that can become very frustrating,” Slack said.
“While I don’t think it has helped airing the laundry in public, Robbie’s selection errors have got to the point where it is trying the confidence of the players and that is what Cooper is alluding to.
“But he hasn’t shown any respect or loyalty to the players or the game in the way he has done this.”
Slack said it was a fact of life in the era of professional rugby, which was began in 1995, that the buck stops with the coach.
“Nowadays is it perform or perish,” Slack said
“People will be looking for a scapegoat and rightly or wrongly the responsibility for the performances rests with the coach.
“There will be a lot of pressure on Robbie heading into the game.
“And if it is a game they lose, that pressure will only intensify but I think even they win that pressure will still be there.”