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Rob Kearney left 'pretty unimpressed' by his season in Australia

By Ian Cameron
Rob Kearney addresses the media following a Western Force Super Rugby training session at UWA Rugby Club, McGillivray Oval on January 12, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Former Ireland fullback Rob Kearney has spoken of being taken aback following a year in Australian rugby with the Western Force in Super Rugby.

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The Ireland great bookended his career with a spell in Western Australia, but from a rugby point of view, it left a lot to be desired for 36-year-old Test veteran.

Acknowledging the difficult position the sport finds itself in Australia, Kearney said what surprised him the most was the lack of quality in the coaching, an area the Australians use to lead the world in.

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‘Honestly I was pretty unimpressed by it [Australian rugby],” Kearney told Virgin Media Sports prior to the Wallabies’ narrow loss to Ireland last weekend. “The game is a difficult place down there.

‘You’ve got Australian Rules, you’ve got Rugby League, you’ve got cricket. You know, rugby union does come on the radar too much.

“I played Super Rugby games in front of 4,000 player,” noted Kearney, who won 95 caps for Ireland.

“The quality of coaching was probably the area that I was surprised most. The quality of athlete is incredible, it’s there to see. They have some immense athletes but unfortunately, rugby doesn’t get first, second, third choice of those athletes.

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“The game is struggling down there. I think having the World Cup go back there is very important for them.

“But this is a team [the Wallabies] that need some wins to pull the public back in favour.”

Fellow pundit Matt Williams sounded a rare note of optimism for Australian rugby, which he believes is up off the floor with head coach Dave Rennie.

“It’s really interesting what Robbie says about that because Australian rugby was renowned as the best thinkers in the world in the 90s, up to the 2003 World Cup… and making creative players,” said the former Scotland and Leinster head coach.

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“Now that’s turned on its head. Now you’re seeing Ireland with far more creative players than Australia can muster. Robbie’s hit it on the head. It’s all about coaching, coach education. Part of that is money.

“There’s no people there to do. The Australian Rugby Union don’t have bodies on the ground to do it.

“The good news is Australian rugby is up off the deck. They’re not where they were but 12 months ago they were flat on their backs. Now they’re back on their feet and that’s a really good thing for the game.”

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