About four years ago, I was in a small township in the Waikato called Te Kauwhata. My friend was wearing a Wallabies jacket and a man approached us and said, "I'd be afraid of the Wallabies this year, they took the best coach we have."
For a while I was scared, because in his first match against his homeland, the Wallabies won, 31-19, and it looked like our grip on the Bledisloe was starting to loosen.
Fast forward to October 2011, the Rugby World Cup semifinal. Deans' most high profile game to date. The All Blacks outplayed their trans-Tasman rivals in every facet of the game, whether it be in the open field, the breakdown or the set piece. The All Blacks would win the World Cup, while the Wallabies would go home settling for third.
After the 2007 World Cup, both the All Blacks and the Wallabies had disappointing quarterfinal exits, and questions arose about their coaching situations. Deans was a favourite to win that job, but the NZRU decided to give Graham Henry a second chance. As a result, Deans jumped across the Tasman and became coach of the Wallabies.
Deans' resume speaks for itself, five Super Rugby titles and one NPC title. But Graham Henry's no slouch himself. He had a very successful tenure at my alma mater, Auckland Grammar, won four NPC titles and three Super Rugby titles. But Henry was guilty of being the coach behind the All Blacks' 2007 World Cup quarterfinal exit, and many people thought Deans would be a better man for the job.
Four years later, it looks like the NZRU made the right decision. Graham Henry did a great job with the All Blacks. Conversely, the Wallabies have not improved much since Deans arrived. Deans is not a great fit with the Wallabies, and here's why...