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Australia's 'long-term vision' questioned after Joe Schmidt's 18-month contract

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Of the questions yet to be fully answered from Joe Schmidt’s appointment as Wallabies coach, one of the biggest has got to be why the length of his contract is just 18 months.

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Schmidt lodged an answer at the Wallabies’ press conference last week that pointed to an amicable agreement between himself and Rugby Australia, allowing for an out if either party weren’t satisfied with the situation after the British and Irish Lions tour.

However, considering the 58-year-old is the third coach in as many years for the Wallabies, some Australian fans and pundits couldn’t help but read into the short nature of the commitment.

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“I think the length of the deal is interesting,” Tom Decent told SEN 1170 Mornings.

“He’s basically coming here for 18 months, what does that say about long-term vision – we’re talking really long-term here.

“The players think, ‘Oh this Kiwi is coming in for 18 months then we’re going to have an Aussie after this’.

“The length of the deal I actually don’t mind but I think it would be interesting to actually ask the players privately what they think about that.”

The former World Coach of the Year is tipped to bring a fresh philosophy with differing priorities to his predecessor Eddie Jones, specifically when it comes to selection.

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“To (RA CEO) Phil Waugh’s credit he has spoken about not wanting to work in World Cup cycles, a lot of coaches are obsessed with cleaning out players, rebuilding and all the rest,” Decent added.

“The Wallabies need to win, they need to pick their best 15 players on the park at any one time.

“I think that Joe Schmidt will think whoever is the best player rather than blood guys in for a World Cup in four years’ time.”

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With Super Rugby Pacific’s preseason kicking off in just two weeks’ time, fans will get their first look at who may be putting their hand up for Wallabies selection in 2024.

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Schmidt will of course be watching eagerly, and should he like what he sees, he may feel more inclined to extend his contract beyond 2025.

“If we can get the job done over the next 18 months and get the momentum heading in the right direction then I will feel like I’ve done my part of it and I’ll be happy to be hands-on,” he said at Friday’s free conference.

“Or if some Australian coaches come through, I’m really keen to help get some of the Australian coaches more experience as well so they can pitch up and lead the Wallabies.

“It’s certainly not a hit and run [mission]. For both RA and myself it is a good fit at that time. If you were going to make a change before the World Cup, you don’t want to do it a year out.

“You want to make sure you’ve got a decent run at it but at the same time if we get to the end of the British and Irish Lions series and things are going in the right direction and discussion amongst the board and Phil (Waugh) and Pete (Horne) is that the best thing is for me to stay, then that’s a bridge we will cross then.”

 

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