Dave Rennie believes Australia can benefit from the experience he has gained with Glasgow as he prepares to take up his new role as head coach of the Wallabies. Rennie has spent the last four years with the Warriors, guiding them to the Guinness PRO14 final last year.
He now reckons the spell in the northern hemisphere has left him better equipped for international rugby. “It’s been good for me,” said Rennie, who is leaving Glasgow earlier than planned amid the pandemic shutdown, with Danny Wilson taking over from next week. “I was keen to experience a different culture and a different type of footie.
“Rugby goes on forever up here, the seasons roll into one, so you have to be very detailed around your planning. Around the international commitments, you lose players for big chunks of time so you have to bring through young kids and manage a much bigger squad.
“It’s very set-piece orientated and we have developed a pretty good scrum and an excellent lineout. I know if I bring an international team up here our set-piece has to be good enough… I’ve got to know a lot of players and the clubs and I’ve got a good understanding of how the international teams work, so when I bring an international team up here I’ll know what to expect.”
Rennie is braced for a big challenge as he tries to rescue the fortunes of an Australian team that has slipped to seventh in the world rankings after last year’s World Cup, while off-field issues led Raelene Castle – the woman who appointed Rennie – to resign as Rugby Australia chief executive last month.
“Things have been a bit messy and that’s putting it mildly,” Rennie said. “An enormous amount of stuff has come out in the press and that’s one thing I’d like to stop. A lot of discussions need to happen behind closed doors… but there are lots of good things happening in Australian rugby. The Super Rugby coaches have given us a lot of access to the players and we’ve done a lot of work with those guys.
“Personally I’m in a better place than I would have been if we’d been playing PRO14, so if there are any positives from the pause to the season it would be that. I’m a lot clearer on the players and where they are at and what we need to do.”
Wilson, the Scotland forwards coach, had been due to shadow Rennie for several weeks at Glasgow following the Guinness Six Nations, but those plans were shelved once the season was brought to a halt. “The plan was for him to come in and be a fly on the wall, get an understanding of everything and then he could make changes and throw out what he doesn’t like,” Rennie said.
“Obviously that’s not been possible but there have been a lot of phone calls, a lot of Zoom meetings and he is in a pretty good place. Maybe not as good as it might have been but he has made the best of the situation.”
Rennie is planning to return home to New Zealand within the next fortnight, but as things stand he must then spend two weeks in quarantine. He is not expecting to head to Australia until mid-July. He will also have to say his farewells virtually as he departs Glasgow.
“It’s come around quickly,” he said. “It’s a little bit odd that I’m not going to get a chance to say goodbye face-to-face but I’m jumping on a lot of calls with players. We’re not too bad. Lots of people are having a really tough time so if we’re missing out on a bit of footie and not being able to shake a few hands on the way out it’s not as bad as what others have had.”
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