GOLD COAST - How the injury-hit Wallabies finish their Rugby Championship campaign with a maiden combined tour of South Africa and Argentina will speak volumes for Robbie Deans' future in charge.
Under the pump to remain as coach for next year's British and Irish Lions tour, Deans dodged a bullet with Saturday night's great escape against a spirited and improving Argentinian outfit.
The relief was palpable throughout the Australian squad after they scored 17 unanswered points to survive 23-19 in the first-ever Test on the Gold Coast.
But Deans was quick to laud the Pumas and praise the fightback, before swiftly turning the attention towards the next two Tests on the road, starting on Saturday week at Loftus Versfeld.
After ending a 47-year drought on the high-veldt in 2010, with Kurtley Beale landing a monster late penalty in Bloemfontein, Deans has implored his young side to grab some more history with a first win in Pretoria, where they hold a 0-5 record.
"Robbie said last night in the team huddle that some boys don't win one game over there on the high-veldt," said debutant lock Kane Douglas.
"He said we've got the opportunity to win twice so all the boys are looking forward to it. It's a big test for us."
With the Springboks smarting after shooting themselves in the foot in their 21-11 loss to New Zealand, Deans talked up the challenge in the intimidating Afrikaans fortress.
"We're going to encounter a group that's going to be angry but that's fantastic," he said. "There's no better place to play Test rugby than Loftus."
The following week's return clash against Argentina in Rosario promises to be just as treacherous.
"It's the ultimate rugby experience," said Deans, who is contracted until the end of 2013. "What we're going to get out of the next few weeks is great for this group."
One overseas win should see Australia finish the tournament as runners-up to the All Blacks but two losses will put Deans on more thin ice. Like South Africa in Dunedin, the forlorn Pumas gravely admitted they missed a huge opportunity for an historic victory on Saturday night when up 19-6.
"I think we're improving in every game in this tournament but it's always nice to win," said skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.