World Cup winner Phil Kearns has delivered a damning indictment of Australian rugby, claiming Dave Rennie, the new Wallaby coach, has to end 20 years of “playing by numbers” and rediscover the team’s attacking flair.
Kearns believes Rennie’s brief, having taken over from Michael Cheika, will also include developing Australian coaches to fill the current void that left the ARU with no option but to give the job to a New Zealander.
The former hooker did not pull his punches telling the Devlin Radio Show: “Dave Rennie is rated very highly by players who have been coached by him, but if an Australian was appointed to coach the All Blacks there would be outright war.
“There is currently no obvious Australian candidate to take the head coach role. There are some guys coming through who we think have got potential but there is no one ready to take the reins right now. Generally, over the last 20 years we have been coaching a style of rugby that is very played by numbers and I don’t think we have brought a lot of great coaches through. The ones who had potential have been dragged overseas, mostly to the UK.
“The ability to keep them hasn’t been great and we only have four professional teams and we need to do a better job of coaching the coaches. It would be a mistake if Dave Rennie came in with a whole crew of Kiwi coaches because he has to be seen to be imparting his knowledge on the next batch of Australian coaches.”
While a dearth of home-grown coaching talent is Kearns’ major concern, he is also unhappy with the style of rugby that has been served up, although he accepts Cheika did try to change this situation but his term ended after the World Cup in Japan.
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He added: “You have seen the Wallabies play a very structured, programmed style of game for the last 15-20 years and our strength traditionally has been our flair and ad-lib which has to a large extent disappeared.
“Dave Rennie’s job is to get the most out of the players he has got and identify the next group of talent coming through and make sure they are coached properly. Our players have been so worried about where they have to be on the field rather than responding to the way the game is being played that it has taken us backwards.
“Look at the team Rod McQueen coached, and the back line was: Gregan. Larkham, Horan, Little, Roff, Tune and Burke with a couple of decent forwards running around supporting them. They knew how to play rugby and had the skills which I am not sure we have been coaching for the last 15 years.
“At the World Cup (in Japan) one of the big issues was that we didn’t have a World class 9 or 10.”
The Season 5 – Episode 3
A changing room reminder about team values and expectations encourages the squad to train with consistency but mistakes start to creep in.
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