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Waratahs working ‘frantically’ to find new coach after Simon Raiwalui signing

By AAP
Simon Raiwalui, Head Coach of Fiji, looks on prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs are locked in a “frantic” search for a new coach after unveiling Fijian miracle worker Simon Raiwalui as director of performance.

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Raiwalui, who masterminded Fiji’s first win over Australia since 1961 to send the Wallabies crashing out of last year’s Rugby World Cup, has been tasked with securing a replacement for Darren Coleman.

“I do get the sense of urgency at the moment,” Waratahs chief executive Paul Doorn said of the growing angst around the franchise not having a head coach in place for the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific competition after finishing last this year.

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“I’ve already been contacting certain players, staff, just giving them a level of comfort.”

Despite not officially joining the franchise until September, Raiwalui said landing the right coach was a priority as he strives to restore the Waratahs’ battered reputation.

“I’ve already been in a meeting around coaching options and we’ve got some very good options in there in place,” he said.

Former Wallabies assistants Dan McKellar and Scott Wisemantel appear the frontrunners after a dramatic few days in the coaching merry-go-round.

McKellar, also a successful ex-Brumbies mentor, surprisingly departed Leicester a year into a three-season deal, leaving former Waratahs and Wallabies boss Michael Cheika to move into the role.

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That development ruled Cheika out of contention for a return to Sydney, a decade after coaching the Waratahs to their one and only Super Rugby crown.

Doorn and Raiwalui were tight-lipped on Friday about who the next coach would be, promising only that it would take “not long” to nab their man.

“What I will say is we’ve got a great selection of coaches available to us that have made themselves available and we’ll get a really good coaching staff out it,” Doorn said.

“It’s hard to put a timeline on it except we are working frantically.

“Just trying to get that done as quickly as possible, but actually doing a really thorough process to make sure we get the right person, because we know what will happen after that.

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“We’ve got one piece of the puzzle locked in, which is Simon. The next one will be the head coach.”

Whoever the coach may be, Raiwalui is confident of awakening Australian rugby’s sleeping giant.

“I don’t use the word upset or past glories. I don’t use past glories as a trump card,” he said.

“I genuinely wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think that the Waratahs are a success-in-waiting.

“I do think they have the bones, they have the pillars, they have the people in place to have success.

“There’s obviously things that we need to work on. We need to get the best staff in place, whether it be playing, whether it be off-field.

“We need to get the best players through the juniors, women, men … getting all our ducks in a row so that we’ve got success on the field.”

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