'We've got to be patient': Rugby Australia CEO's plea to fans after Super Rugby Trans-Tasman whitewash
Rugby Australia chief Andy Marinos concedes there’s a gulf in standard between Australian rugby and the might of New Zealand but remains “absolutely” confident the Wallabies will beat France in July’s three-test series.
Marinos is calling for patience from success-starved Australian fans after the country’s five Super Rugby franchises suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Kiwi outfits in the opening round of the Trans-Tasman competition at the weekend.
While the Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds, just six days after winning the Super Rugby AU title, both suffered heavy defeats and the NSW Waratahs shipped 64 points against the Hurricanes, the Brumbies and Western Force fell painfully short of upset wins.
“Look, it wasn’t an ideal start but we weren’t too far away from getting one or two wins and it probably would have been a very different conversation we’d be having this morning,” Marinos told AAP on Monday.
“But it’s good for us to benchmark ourselves, good to see where we are in relation (to New Zealand) and there’s a lot of positives we can take out of this last weekend.
“There’s a slight gulf but I think the biggest thing is to have squad depth.
“They’ve got the ability to have a lot more depth from player 23 to probably 50 to than what we do here.
“It’s also a timing thing.
“We had this conversation about the Reds in 2016 and 2017 when (coach) Brad (Thorn) was bringing through a new young generation of players.
“They were learning tough lessons each week, and what they’ve been able to do over time is build squad strength and depth.
“I think that’s where Australian rugby is at the moment.
“We’re in a transition period.”
Marinos said it was inevitable having lost a generation of stars to overseas clubs that Australia’s new-era talents would take time to flourish.
“We’ve got to be patient,” he said.
“We’ve got to give these guys an opportunity to do their apprenticeship and get one or two seasons under their belt and I think then the game will be really well served.”
France finished second in this year’s Six Nations and Marinos is under no illusions about the challenge the Wallabies face.
The series will be squeezed into just 11 days after Les Bleus serve their quarantine period, with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie likely to name a 36 to 38-man squad to combat the gruelling schedule.
The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) is satisfied all measures were being taken to protect the Wallabies’ welfare.
“There’s been quite a significant amount of interaction between the coaches and strength and conditioning staff and administration from Rugby Australia,” RUPA boss Justin Harrison said.
“When we started galvanising the dates, it became about problem solving, it became about meeting the challenge.
“So we talked about squad size and increasing squad size, rotation of players, managing their loads through that performance window.
“Making sure that we’re cognisant that they’re coming out of quite a brutal domestic Super AU and the crossover Trans-Tasman (competition).
“Coming into a three-test series against a tier-one nation is quite a difficult talk but not an impossible one.”
Marinos offered his own solution to ensuring no Wallabies players had to play all three tests in such a short time frame.
“All of the planning would hopefully suggest we’ll be going into the third test 2-0 up,” he said.
“So then you can push those rotations through.”
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