ROBBIE DEANS has faced pressure before, but the vultures are circling after Saturday’s disaster in Melbourne.
Australia now travel to Deans’ home town of Christchurch facing the task of reversing a 28-49 defeat, and knowing another loss will hand New Zealand the Tri Nations title.
Saturday’s defeat was the eighth straight loss against New Zealand, and ARU chief executive John O’Neill admitted yesterday that "the dogs will be barking" about Deans’ position at the Wallabies’ helm.
But rather than chastise his own – who displayed fierce spirit in coming back to 49-28 after being reduced to 14 men at 32-14 down – Deans could only purr over the All Blacks display.
"They (NZ) are at the peak of their powers – they’re playing with cohesion and confidence, they are the best side in the world," Deans said.
Meanwhile, Australia centre Rob Horne was diagnosed with a fracture in his right elbow which will require surgery. The 20-year-old is set to miss the rest of the season.
Scorers for Australia: Mitchell, Ashley-Cooper, Elsom try each; Giteau 2 cons, 3 pens.
Scorers for New Zealand: Muliaina 2 tries; McCaw, Jane, Rokococo, Flynn try each; Carter try, 4 cons, 2 pens.
AUSTRALIA: Ashley-Cooper, O’Connor, Horne, Barnes, Mitchell, Giteau, Genia, Robinson, Moore, Ma’afu, Mumm, Sharpe, Elsom, Pocock, Brown.
Replacements: S. Faingaa, Slipper, Simmons, Hodgson, Burgess, A. Faingaa, Beale.
NEW ZEALAND: Muliaina, Jane, Smith, Nonu, Rokocoko, Carter, Cowan, Woodcock, Mealamu, O. Franks, Thorn, Donnelly, Kaino, McCaw, Read.
Replacements: Flynn, B. Franks, Whitelock, Vito, Weepu, Cruden, Dagg.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).