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Wallaroos coach Jo Yapp pleads for patience following disappointing Pacific Four Series

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 25: Head coach Joanne Yapp of Australia talks to her team after losing the 2024 Pacific Four Series Round 4 & 2024 O'Reilly Cup 1st Test match between New Zealand Black Ferns and Australia Wallaroos at North Harbour Stadium on May 25, 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Wallaroos head coach Jo Yapp is holding onto the positives following her side’s failed World Rugby Pacific Four Series campaign, in which they lost all three matches and suffered a shock defeat to USA.

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The latest 67-19 drubbing at the hands of the Black Ferns at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday consigned them to WXV 2 and means they are yet to officially qualify for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025.

Despite the results, though, Yapp has urged fans to be patient as the group adjusts to significant changes.

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“It’s just unfortunate that we had a really quick run in to the Pacific Four Series,” Yapp said. “We only had sort of eight days together, which has put us on the back foot a little bit.

“But we’ve shown progress over time. We’ve got a new coaching team and new players coming into the squad and that just takes a little bit of time.

“We’ve showed glimpses of some really positive stuff. There was some good character shown by the girls, they didn’t stop fighting for 80 minutes which is really good to see, so there’s a lot to work with.”

Fixture
Pacific Four Series
New Zealand Women's
67 - 19
Full-time
Australia Women's
All Stats and Data

In the 30-player squad Yapp named for the Pacific Four Series, the Wallaroos’ first outing since Rugby Australia announced more lucrative player contracts and added investment, were a whopping nine debutants while a number of regulars were notably left out.

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The changes were always going to take time to bed in and are part of a longer-term plan to peak at the World Cup, captain Michaela Leonard insists.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be a sprint, that it was going to be a long-term build over the next two years to be where we want to be at World Cup and I’m still definitely proud of the girls,” she said.

“I think we showed how much talent there is across this 23 and across the 30 over this campaign and how much potential we have when we do execute right and get our systems running.”

The team will regroup and reflect on the campaign before having the opportunity to improve ahead of WXV 2 in tests against Fiji and New Zealand back home in July.

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“We’ll be reflecting on ourselves following this campaign, but overall I think the messaging needs to be relatively positive,” Leonard added.

“We know that this is a new group both on the field in the players as well as the coaching staff, but as a group we have full faith in the players that we have, and we have full faith in the coaching staff and what they’re trying to execute.”

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Despite her first outing as head coach of an international side ending in consecutive losses, Yapp says she’s feeling confident in her role and in those around her.

“I’ve been really well supported by my team, I’ve got some really good people in place so they’re really helping with that and I’ve got a great group of players to work with so it’s good.”

With a Rugby World Cup on the horizon in England next year, Leonard believes Yapp’s Northern Hemisphere rugby nous will stand the Wallaroos in good stead.

“Having played for England as a half-back herself and her work with the Warriors over in the Prem, she’s been around high quality rugby and that Northern Hemisphere rugby for a long time,” Leonard said.

“I think having that perspective as both a coach and a player, she knows how to look at the game and break down the game from the sideline, but also from on the field and she knows how to articulate that as a coach as well.

“So, I think it’s going to work really strongly in our favour. It’s going to let us combine that little bit of Australian style play that we have, with a little bit more of that Northern Hemisphere kick-battle style and I guess come up with really good game plans depending on the opposition that we have.”

After two years under former coach Jay Tregonning, Leonard says the team is enjoying a fresh approach with Yapp and her assistants Chris Delooze and Sam Needs.

“I think they’ve all been really beneficial for us so far,” she added. “They’re really allowing us to take a little bit more control and a little bit more leadership as a playing group.

“We know what they expect from us, they’re really clear and detailed in the pictures they want us to put out on the field. I think it’s going to be a really positive relationship and I think over three weeks there’s already been a hell of a lot of learnings and I’m sure there’s going to be plenty more in the next couple of years.”

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Courtney 26 days ago

Jo Yapp is a really good coach, her record shows that. Time with the squad to get them to work with her methods, tactics and gameplan will evidence how good a coach she is

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