Sacking Australia head coach Robbie Deans if the Wallabies perform badly in this year’s Tri Nations would be ‘madness’ – that’s the view of a former Wallaby skipper.
Deans is contracted until after next year’s World Cup but the New Zealander is under increasing pressure following a wooden spoon finish in last year’s tournament and a recent home defeat to England.
Andrew Slack, an Australian Rugby Union Hall of Famer who led the Wallabies on their Grand Slam tour of the UK in 1984, admits that strange things do happen in rugby but that any move to get rid of Deans so close to the World Cup would be the wrong one.
"I can't for a minute fathom that would happen – well I could fathom it would happen because odd things happen – but it would be madness, regardless of what happens in the next two months, to change things there," Slack told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Ostensibly you could lose six and play damn well in each of them and not have a skerrick of luck and that's where you have to make some pretty objective, not subjective, judgements.
"But God willing we win four or five or six."
The Wallabies kick off their Tri Nations campaign against South Africa in Brisbane this weekend having already seen the All Blacks comfortably defeat the Boks on each of the two previous Saturdays.
And while Slack remains hopeful that his countrymen can start to challenge the world’s top-two teams on a regular basis, he does point to a lack of size in the Wallaby back division and a failure to maintain their performance levels for long periods as worrying potential stumbling blocks.
"I think (the lack of size) is an issue," added Slack, in reference to lack of a commanding presence such as Stirling Mortlock, Lote Tuqiri or even 2001 Lions tormentor Daniel Herbert.
"There's a lot of talent and lot of strength and skill in (James) O'Connor and (Adam) Ashley-Cooper who are fantastic players and exceptionally strong for the size they are but they're not big.
"And that's why that intensity for 80 minutes is very important.
"We've not always been great 80 minute teams and that's what the All Blacks are.
"They have to show every second is vital for them and that hasn't been visible so far this year and has to be over the next couple of months."