Losing Deans to Wallabies hurt: Carter
1 October, 2014, 12:07 am
Update: 12:07PM All Blacks superstar Dan Carter has admitted how shattered he was to learn that Robbie Deans was leaving New Zealand to coach the Wallabies.
Deans introduced Carter to Super Rugby, guided the Crusaders to four titles and helped mould the classy playmaker into one of the finest midfield generals the game had ever seen by late 2007.
But after being contentiously overlooked for the All Blacks coaching position, Deans did the unthinkable in New Zealand – accepted then-ARU boss John O’Neill’s offer to guide Australia.
At 48, Deans had become the Wallabies’ first-ever foreign coach.
Like half of New Zealand, Carter was shellshocked.
“It’s easier to acknowledge now – and this is the appropriate forum in which to do so – that I battled with the idea of Robbie Deans becoming Australian coach,” Carter says in a foreword of his former mentor’s autobiography Red, Black and Gold, to be released on Thursday.
“He had coached me for so long, was someone whom I respected enormously and considered a good mate, and now he was going to be coaching our arch-rivals?
“It was tough to take. The Wallabies were a good enough team as it was without having someone of his calibre coaching them.”
Carter says he asked himself the question over and over again before eventually accepting Deans’ trans-Tasman move as a business decision that happen these days in professional sport.
“The difficulty I had in accepting Robbie’s situation at the time simply reflected the enormous respect I have for him, after everything he’d done for me.”
While he finally came to terms his decision, Carter said their relationship inevitably changed during Deans’ five-year reign at the Wallabies.
“There’s no doubt that Robbie’s time in Australia did make some of his existing relationships back in New Zealand more awkward,” Carter writes.
“And I’m sure it was the same for him as it was for some of the other All Blacks guys who had previously played under him.
“There’s always an edge when you are competing; there has to be, and the higher the level, the more intense the competition is.”
Crusaders and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was also uncomfortable about losing “a very good coach”, so much so that he successfully lobbied the NZRU not to release him until after the 2008 Super Rugby season.
McCaw wanted the Wallabies to enjoy as little a preparation for the Bledisloe Cup and Tri Nations series as possible under Deans.
Deans ultimately won 43 of a record 74 Tests coaching the Wallabies, but could only mastermind three victories from 18 cracks at the All Blacks.
Now coaching the Panasonic Wild Cats in Japan, Deans hasn’t given up hope of one day getting a shot with the All Blacks after losing out to Graham Henry seven years ago, a decision that shocked many Kiwis.
“I have an addiction to challenges,” Deans told AAP.
“Who would have thought I would have coached the Wallabies?
“You just don’t know. I’m still enjoying it. I’m enjoying this group and this program (in Japan). I still get a flame that burns.
“But what happens from here? Who knows. I’m better equipped for whatever does happen, I can tell you that much.”