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'The personality of a chair': Ex-Wallaby blasts Dave Rennie

By Ned Lester
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie looks on during the 2020 Tri-Nations match between the Australian Wallabies and the Argentina Pumas at McDonald Jones Stadium on November 21, 2020 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

While dividing much of the rugby community, Dave Rennie’s firing in favour of Eddie Jones has left former Wallaby fullback Greg Martin deeply enthused. The outspoken Australian praised Jones’ gravity on and off the field while throwing shade at Rennnie’s lack of charisma amongst other accused shortcomings.

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Rennie was axed nine months out from this year’s Rugby World Cup after serving three years as Wallabies head coach, a period where Australia boasted just a 38% win rate. A historically poor record that Martin put down to a lack of care, lacklustre selections, and an inability to inspire the team or fanbase.

Martin was of the opinion that Eddie Jones’s status as a polarizing figure has already breathed desperately needed life into Australian rugby and all press is good press for the struggling Australian game.

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“Eddie, without even stepping foot in Australia has already put rugby back in the newspapers and I’m always telling you, it’s not in the paper anywhere because no one cares and we’re losers,” Martin summarised for Martin Devlin on The Platform.

“He’s offering us all hope.

“No one even knew what Dave Rennie sounded like because he avoided any media at any stage. What Eddie Jones does is, he doesn’t chase it but they’ll chase him because they know they’ll get a grab for their news or their newspaper report. He’s newsworthy!

“And he knows how the game’s played and that’s proper experience as opposed to Dave Rennie.

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“Dave Rennie had the personality of a chair, and he had results that were the worst by any Wallaby coach… and he was a Kiwi, he didn’t really care, he was just taking a payslip mate, that’s the bottom line.

“You’ve gotta have a bloke from your own country coaching your country otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Rennie’s nationality has become the subject of much discussion since his dismissal, former All Black Stephen Donald this week claimed Rennie’s axing was in a similar political light to that of New Zealand-born Wallaby coaches before him and that any Kiwi-coach that ventures to Australian shores for the top Wallaby job is “on a hiding to nothing”.

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Martin’s perspective was that the emotional investment of a foreign coach could never equal that of a local coach representing their country.

“You need to be fully invested,” Martin continued. “And unless you’ve been singing that national anthem your whole life, you don’t really give a stuff, you’re just going to fulfil all the details of your contract so you can get paid each month and everything will be fine – no, you’ve got to be red hot and that’s Eddie Jones, he’s come home and like he said, there’s people that get married to the same person twice, that’s what’s happening here, they sacked him in 2005, he hated their guts but he’s back again now because he loves Australia.

“The problem will be if the cattle (players) aren’t good enough and they probably aren’t.

“What every footy fan needs is hope and that’s what Eddie Jones delivers. With Dave Rennie, we kept on getting the same thing, a bloke who couldn’t pick the right team, who wouldn’t pick the right combinations to stick with. All right, he offered us no hope, we just went ‘we’re stuffed, World Cup year, we’re not going to go anywhere’.

“All of a sudden it’s (Jones’ hiring) energised all those rugby fans I was telling you about, all those casual rugby fans, they’re going ‘hold on, Eddie’s coming back, the bloke’s a winner, wherever he goes he wins, he’s in charge of the Wallabies’ so all rugby fans have got hop and that’s what Rugby Australia are pinning their hopes on.”

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