Berne, who completed his Super Rugby commitments as assistant coach of the Melbourne Rebels last week, will immediately link up with Michael Cheika again, who brought him in as a player when he was coach of Leinster.
Berne spent two years with the Irish giants, and was there during Cheika’s final season in Dublin. Their preexisting relationship may prove vital, particularly as it is only three months until the World Cup, and the two will need to drag a fairly abject Wallabies team up off their feet.
The former Australia A international replaces Stephen Larkham, who left his post with the Wallabies in February after a poor 2018.
Fitzgerald, who was a member of the Leinster squad alongside Berne that won the Heineken Cup in 2011, has said on Twitter that this is a “very astute decision” by Cheika. He would have played alongside Berne and under Cheika during his time with Leinster, and would have an understanding what each can bring to the Wallabies.
The former British and Irish Lion also complimented Berne’s “great rugby brain”, which will be needed if he is to replace Larkham, who was lauded during his playing days as a tactician.
This is what Fitzgerald said:
— luke fitzgerald (@lukefitz11) June 21, 2019
Berne’s season with the Rebels would have disappointed him, however, he has helped them become a growing force in Super Rugby. They started the season very strongly, and had a flowing attack led by some Wallabies.
Berne’s relationship with the likes of Will Genia, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete and Dane Haylett-Petty will help him ease into the job as quickly as possible. This also means Rebels fly-half Quade Cooper’s chance of a recall to the national side have only improved.
He only has a short time to turn the Wallabies’ fortunes around with the Rugby Championship starting in July, and the World Cup starting in September, but he has got the backing from a former teammate.
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