Dave Rennie is an outstanding coach, there is no doubt about it. He is a first-time international coach and will dominate in the future on the world stage in some capacity.
However, has he transformed Australian rugby to where it needs to be, or are the athletes simply not up to standard?
Firstly, despite last week’s debacle against Argentina, he has created some significant depth, which should’ve been enough to get through that game.
But it transcended into a team without any structure or confidence.
The Wallabies, on paper, have always been a team to excite and create optimism for their fans, but unfortunately they have fallen well short in execution for 20 years now.
Whilst Rennie has created depth when those before him have not, the basics of skill sets remain the same.
Rennie has told the Australian public that he wants his players to play on “instinct”, as well as structure, but so too did Michael Cheika and Robbie Deans.
In simple terms, the Wallabies have been coached into structures for years and they cannot break it.
The great David Campese has stated that he wouldn’t make a current Super Rugby team due to his lack of structure.
What does this say for our current players? Campo has also stated for years that basic catch and pass skills are sub-standard.
Here is a classic point that speaks to this.
Cheika wanted the Wallabies to play a certain style and they couldn’t adapt.
He takes over Argentina and changes a game plan in a week and they delivered, almost without fault.
What is the difference?
Quite simply, Australian rugby players are robots in a system. A system that may work for other countries, but was always outside the Australian way of playing rugby.
Look at the success of the Wallabies in the ’80s and ’90s and to a lesser extent, the early 2000s.
It was “caution to the wind” but we backed ourselves. I don’t think there is player in the current set-up who could and those who did (James O’Connor and Quade Cooper) have been advised otherwise.
England, NZ, South Africa, France and Argentina, meanwhile, have embraced it and evolved.
If you look at the team, there is immense talent, but no confidence and trust in those around you.
It is time for a new generation. It is time for Rennie to be bold.
The issues lie in Taniela Tupou, fullback and fly-half, whilst the rest of the forward pack has an abundance of talent and need to be coached/mentored to be who they need to be.
Tupou clearly is not great at present.
There is not much of a care factor.
He has just become a dad, and for a number of us, that becomes priority No.1. I’d let him go overseas and get him off RA’s books.
He simply isn’t up to scratch on the rugby pitch for international rugby, but is a great dad and can forge his own life for his family.
There is nothing wrong with that, I admire him. Enjoy your time playing in Europe or Japan or wherever you see yourself being.
At fly-half, well enough is enough, O’Connor is an awesome player but is lacking confidence there.
I would certainly have him in the World Cup squad and even in the match day 23, given our youth, but he is not a starting 10.
Cooper is the guy, but will he will be underdone and Noah Lolesio must start. Bring in Tane Edmed or Ben Donaldson to start their apprenticeship.
There are no other options and if Cooper becomes available, at least you’ve given some experience to these guys.
World Cup 2023 is gone for Australia, unless Lolesio can play flatter and Cooper is available, so don’t flog a dead horse.
Let these guys play and build experience.
Think back to Tim Horan and Jason Little, Michael Lynagh and Campese, yes it was amateur, but Matt Giteau also exploded onto the scene. Amateur versus professional, maybe, but why are the Springboks, All Blacks, France, England and Argentina all doing it with 20-year-olds and we aren’t?
If there is a mystical theory in Australian rugby to create this belief that “you need to grow” it hasn’t worked for 20 years and perhaps should be revisited.
We have 12 months, give them a chance.
Now to fullback, Rennie has to be bold.
Andrew Kellaway must start if available but Campbell is the complete package, as per England, South Africa, New Zealand etc.
Forget flamboyance, as we can’t catch and pass to the required standards, and go with tried and tested. I also think that Jock Campbell must be included somewhere. He is a Matt Burke and is safe.
As a left-field option, perhaps, and I say this with trepidation, Suliasi Vunivalu on a wing to negate high ball.
NRL is different to international rugby, but maybe at the back, it could create questions for the Boks and see if he’s the real deal for 2023.
Mr Rennie, at this stage, you’re at 40 per cent, you’ve created depth for a reason. Maybe being bold is a master stroke.
To keep it the same will mean a quarter-final exit. Give yourself a chance.
You know what you’re doing, you need more years, but no one has had success beyond four years, except maybe Hansen.
Rugby – The Roar