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Joe Schmidt explains decision to pick Liam Wright as new Wallabies captain

By Finn Morton
Liam Wright talks to team mates during a Wallabies training session at David Phillips Sports Complex on July 04, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Australia coach Joe Schmidt has described new captain Liam Wright as an “understated” individual before explaining why the Queensland Reds backrower will lead with actions in the first Test of the year against Wales.

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The rumours are true. It’d be reported by multiple publications throughout the week that Wright, who has only played a handful of Test matches in the gold jersey and none since 2020, would become the Wallabies’ seventh captain in a year.

Former boss Eddie Jones gave the role to Michael Hooper, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Tate McDermott, Will Skelton and David Porecki at various points last year. But now is Wright’s time to carry the weight of responsibility as the Wallabies’ 89th captain.

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This is news that will come as a surprise to pretty well everyone in the rugby community, but the Queenslander has proven himself time and time again as a leader of men with a rapidly improving Reds outfit in Super Rugby Pacific.

Schmidt landed on Wright as Australia’s newest rugby skipper after first picking the team and then considering who already has a responsibility in the team. With Wright already taking on the role of lineout caller, the coach seemed assured in giving him the captaincy.

“I think with Liam he’s really understated. He’s a leader in a Super Rugby team anyway so he’s got that leadership experience,” Schmidt told reporters at Rugby Australia on Thursday.

“He was identified by the players as a natural leader in the group. He’s a lineout caller so he already has a responsibility in the team, not that he calls all the lineout but it’s one of the things he contributes to.

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“What all the coaches liked about Liam is he doesn’t really say that much, he just gets on and gets the job done really well. That’s probably it in a nutshell.”

Schmidt revealed there had been discussions with players about leadership but not the captaincy. The coaching staff, along with the playing group, wanted to find someone who “demonstrated the values and behaviours” worthy of the captaincy.

But it’s also an interesting call considering what happened last year under Jones. Slipper, Alaalatoa and McDermott are all in the squad but have at least initially been overlooked for the leadership position.

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That means the Wallabies will have a seventh captain lead them into battle in the space of just 10 Tests. The role could still be passed onto other players with Schmidt explaining that this isn’t necessarily a long-term decision.

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“At the moment everything’s pretty short-term, including our preparation. We’ve had four trainings really,” Schmidt explained.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Liam, but the same with all the others in the leadership group and the players in general. They’ve been a super group to work with.

“It’s a really interdependent game, rugby. It’s one of the things I love about it but it does mean that your preparation has to be nailed on pretty well if you’re going to get the cohesion on a Saturday.

“While I can’t guarantee the cohesion, I think guys like Josh and the rest of the squad, I can pretty much guarantee the effort that will be there.”

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Comments

5 Comments
j
john 16 days ago

It is not surprising that a kiwi coach of Australia chose a dull, boring, unemotional, south african born and uninspiring captain of the Reds to lead the Wallabies.

It’s what kiwi coaches in Australia do. It’s very clever. To make sure Australians don’t get fired up and motivated, which is what kiwis are terrified of happening.

We can see you Joe. We have seen Robbie Deans and Rennie try to sabotage the Wallabies chances like this too.

I can gaurantee you that after selecting a second string Wallaby team, just like Deans and Renne did, Schmidt will soon be changing the team almost every game.

Then he will start playing players out of position. Then he will try running our best players in to the ground and lo and behold, there will be more room for Tah players.

I mean Jake Gordon, come on. The guy is just too lazy to even turn up to some rucks
and sometimes about half an hour late and so many Tah entitlement penalties. I mean how dare a Ref penalize a Tah player.

It’s all just soooo predictable.

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