Shaun Berne’s influence as Wallabies attack coach blossomed last Saturday in Perth versus the All Blacks and Kurtley Beale thinks their all-encompassing approach to running rugby will only be better at the World Cup.
The full-back believes Australia’s attacking game has taken on a new lease of life under Berne, who replaced Stephen Larkham in the only change to the coaching structure after the miserable returns of 2018.
After spluttering somewhat last month in a loss to South Africa and a narrow win over Argentina, the Wallabies ran amok in last Saturday’s 21-point Bledisloe Cup triumph, succeeding spectacularly with a no-kicking approach that established a mortgage on possession and ultimately wore New Zealand out. Their six tries and 47 points posted were both Wallabies records in 165 trans-Tasman Tests dating back to 1903.
Beale had nothing but praise for Berne and hopes they can manipulate the world champions again in the Cup decider at Eden Park this Saturday. He missed out on playing alongside the crafty coach at the Waratahs by one season when the latter took his playing career to Europe in 2007.
The 40-year-old had nous back then for unlocking defences but Beale said he had clearly honed his craft and learned how to get the most out of strike weapon players. “Shaun has been great for us in the backline and for the whole side in attack. He has brought a new edge to the game, a different approach, which is always refreshing,” said Beale.
(Continue reading below…)
“He’s allowing the guys to go out there and be themselves and providing a structure that allows us to do that. He has brought different dynamics to how we want to play the game.”
It was feared Israel Folau’s absence would rob the Wallabies of their only genuine attacking match-winner. Instead, the attack load is being shared, with Beale regarding the refined skills of recalled pair Christian Leali’ifano and James O’Connor as the perfect foil for his own running game and the power of inside centre Samu Kerevi.
Five-eighth Leali’ifano and outside centre O’Connor now have the inside running for World Cup starting berths ahead of more established pair Bernard Foley and Tevita Kuridrani. “They are two players with a lot of unpredictability about their game and they certainly brought that at the weekend,” Beale continued. “It’s great to have players with that type of ammunition. Creativity is very important at Test match level.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 12, 2019
Beale believed O’Connor would thrive under Berne’s mantra to give players a licence to try something. The old version of O’Connor may have taken such a message too far and errors would have resulted, but Beale believes the reformed match-winner proved that he has developed a waiting game.
“The thing I felt out there was just his calmness,” Beale said. “His ability to strike at any given second is pretty impressive as well so his time away brought that level of calmness about him, and that definitely rubs off on the other guys around him.”
WATCH: Scott Barrett’s World Cup hopes are still alive after a judicial hearing into the New Zealander;’s red card versus Australia
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.