Aussies' new breed pose major Bledisloe threat
INTERVIEW: Coach Dave Rennie is unruffled by his separation from the Wallabies as he solidifies plans to promote youth and spurn off-shore players to get immediate results.
Officially a week into his latest role, it is still about a month until Kiwi Rennie hits the training fields of Australia.
Having completed two weeks of quarantine in Auckland, Rennie is spending a fortnight in his home town of Palmerston North before departing for Sydney – where another 14 days of isolation awaits.
The 56-year-old insists he is comfortable with the set-up in which assistant coaches Matt Taylor and Scott Wisemantel connect directly with Super Rugby AU teams while he touches base remotely.
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Rennie was pleased with what he saw from the first round of games in the 12-week competition, further cementing his reluctance to look overseas for players – describing that selection method as a “slippery slope”.
“I reckon the ideal scenario is that we keep picking from within Australia, encourage players to stay there if they want to be Wallabies,” he told Sky Sport NZ.
“I’m looking forward to identifying some of those good young kids and developing them really quickly, hopefully through Super Rugby.
“It doesn’t mean that we won’t grab someone from overseas but it won’t be wholesale like South Africa does.”
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Rennie is encouraged by the recent success of Australian age group teams against New Zealand and won’t rule out throwing rookies into this year’s Bledisloe Cup, if the series goes ahead.
He believes the youngsters could inject the positivity he’s after, given the Wallabies’ 18 years of pain against the All Blacks.
“It’s so much about belief when you haven’t beaten the All Blacks for so long. Players lack confidence,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids that have had success against NZ teams so they’re not scarred from the past.
“While there’s probably more depth in NZ, our job is to assemble 30-40 guys who we think can be really competitive.”
Rennie said World Cup planning has not been on his agenda.
His sole focus is October 10, which he remains adamant will be the first Bledisloe Cup Test date in Wellington, even though details of the Trans-Tasman series are yet to be announced.
If accurate, he would have about three weeks of unhindered preparation with Wallabies players after the Super Rugby AU final on September 19.
“It’s not an enormous amount of time so we’re getting a lot of planning done,” Rennie said.
“Obviously there’s talk about 2023 but we need to win now.
“I think we need to have high expectations and work hard to achieve it.”