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'It won't happen': Rennie rules out Jones' Wallabies homecoming before RWC

By Finn Morton
(Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The international rugby rumour mill was in full swing last month after super coach Eddie Jones was sensationally axed by the RFU just nine months out from this year’s World Cup.

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While there were murmurs about a potential role in the United States, and a stunning move to rugby league, there was one report which was especially intriguing for fans Down Under.

The Wallabies are coming off a disastrous campaign, as they slumped to just five wins from 14 test matches. A late try against Wales in Cardiff saw the men in gold avoid their worst season since 1958.

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Under fire head coach Dave Rennie has not been axed by Rugby Australia, and is expected` to remain in charge through to the World Cup.

But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t use some help.

Jones, who is one of the greatest coaches in international rugby history, has been linked with a stunning return to Australian shores.

While the 62-year-old tried to downplay these rumours in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald last month, speculation continues to persist as the rugby guru remains a free agent.

As reported last month, Australian rugby journalist Tom Decent is “quietly confident” will return to the Wallabies setup in some capacity in the future – but in what role remains to be seen.

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However, ahead of a four-day training camp on the Gold Coast, head coach Rennie attempted to put any rumours to bed. Rennie ruled out working alongside Jones at this year’s World Cup.

“It won’t happen before (the World Cup),” Rennie said. “There’s a fair bit of speculation about a lot of things but my focus is on this group and the World Cup.

“Anything else happening beyond that will be clarified over the next few months.

“We’ve had no discussions around that. There’s no plan to make alterations to the coaching group at this stage.

“I haven’t spoken to Hamish (McLennan) and haven’t spoken to Andy (Marinos) about it. My assumption is we’re going to push on.”

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But Jones’ sacking could the start of an unprecedented international rugby coaching merry-go-round; there has never been so much uncertainty.

As reported by Australian website The Roar, Rennie has been linked with a move to Japan Rugby League One club Kobe Steelers after this year’s World Cup.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster is also believed to be on his way to Japan following the sports premier event in France.

“All I’ll say is I haven’t signed with Kobe,” he added. “My focus is totally here. We’ve spent a big chunk of December when we got back doing reviews and World Cup planning.

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“What happens beyond 2023 will probably be a bit clearer in the next few months.”

Rennie named his first Wallabies squad of the year a couple of days ago, with the team meeting for a training camp on the Gold Coast.

The 44-man squad includes uncapped loose forward Charlie Gamble, and injured duo Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi.

“What’s exciting for us is that over the past three years we’ve created genuine depth and competition of places,” Rennie said over the weekend.

“Of the 44 players, all bar two have worn the gold jersey over the past three year sand there’s also several fringe players who still have an opportunity to force their way into the next camp through strong Super Rugby form.

“We’ll use the four days to make sure all players head back to their franchises with a clear understanding on what will give them the best chance to representing their country in a World Cup year.”

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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