WHEN Robbie Deans touches down today with his Australian team for the Rugby World Cup, many fellow Cantabrians will be backing him to do well. Just not too well.
Deans became a local hero as supercoach of the Crusaders before heading across the Tasman in 2008 to take over at the helm of the Wallabies.
His legacy in Canterbury has left some with divided loyalties. The decision to reappoint Graham Henry as All Black head coach ahead of Deans even had some one-eyed Cantabs talking openly of backing the Wallabies over the All Blacks.
Friends of Deans spoken to by the Herald were far more measured.
Former All Black coach Alex "Grizz" Wyllie said most people had long since got over the disappointment of Deans missing out on the All Blacks' job, but still wanted to see him have some success.
"I have got a fair bit of time for Robbie. I suppose if the All Blacks don't win [the World Cup], it would be quite nice if he did it."
Tane Norton, a former All Black captain, said he hoped Deans would get his team to the RWC final against New Zealand "but that's as far as it goes".
Norton said Deans had done a good job with the Wallabies - in particular the 25-20 "hiding" his team gave the All Blacks in the last match in the Tri-Nations tournament.
"But I'm afraid he's done as well as I would have wanted him to have done."
Canterbury Rugby Supporters' Club president Dick Tayler said he noticed after the All Blacks' recent loss to Australia that Kiwi supporters were not as devastated as they might have been in the past.
That might have something to do with Deans' involvement, he said. But the World Cup would be a different story.
"When it comes to the crunch, people have got to back their own country," Tayler said.
Deans did not want to comment on his support in New Zealand when approached by the Herald yesterday.
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