Dave Wessels has come out swinging at former Wallaby Morgan Turinui, who says his time as the Melbourne Rebels coach is up.
Turinui said Wessels had not done enough with the talent in his Super Rugby side since taking over as head coach for the 2018 season.
Speaking on the Rugby Ruckus Tight Five podcast, Turinui, who was attack coach in Melbourne for a season in 2017, said he hadn’t seen any improvement since with the team failing to make finals.
Wessels admitted his team had under-achieved but questioned whether Turinui, who played 20 Tests for the Wallabies between 2003 and 2005, was well-positioned to comment.
“The reality is that we haven’t played the way we wanted to play … whether or not I take Morgan’s comments too seriously is probably another question,” Wessels said on Thursday.
“Morgan won one game when he was in Melbourne and he’s criticised our attack; his attack scored 21 tries and we scored 56 the year after he left.
“He was just a member of staff that we didn’t keep on.”
Turinui also criticised Wessels’ development of young players such as Jack Maddocks and Hunter Paisami, saying they are “killing it” after shifting to NSW and the Reds respectively.
Wessels felt those comments were inaccurate, pointing to Maddocks becoming a Wallaby while at the Rebels before his move to the Waratahs this season.
“I felt that was quite harsh,” the 38-year-old said.
“Before I met Jack Maddocks he’d played two or three Super Rugby games and by the end of it, he was one of the leading try-scorers in the competition and was a Wallaby.
“Hunter was going well as a development player for us until he had an unfortunate incident in a nightclub and we had to release him.”
Wessels said he regularly sought out feedback from senior coaches such as England coach Eddie Jones.
“We’re on a journey as a coaching staff – I’ve certainly never given anyone the impression we’re the finished product,” he said.
“I’m a lot better coach than I was three years ago and I think we’re building something really special.”
Meanwhile, the Rebels announced their line-up for their round-two Super Rugby AU clash with the Reds at Brookvale Oval on Friday night.
The biggest change is Campbell Magnay starting at outside centre, relegating Test back Reece Hodge to the bench.
Wessels said they were managing workloads for the pair and he expected Hodge to still get plenty of game time.
Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Andrew Kellaway, Campbell Magnay, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua, Ryan Louwrens, Michael Wells, Richard Hardwick, Josh Kemeny, Michael Stolberg, Matt Philip, Pone Fa’amausili, Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon. Reserves: Efitusi Ma’afu, Cameron Orr, Jermaine Ainsley, Trevor Hosea, Esei Haangana, Frank Lomani, Rob Leota, Reece Hodge.
– Melissa Woods
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