Aussie boss has 'future plans'
REACTION: Australia’s Director of Rugby Scott Johnson is already thinking about the 2023 World Cup in France.
He is ‘investing in youth’ is a big part of his plan to rejuvenate the Wallabies.
Sydney-born Johnson was recruited to the newly-created role in March from a similar position with Scotland, but there was not sufficient time to properly enact his plans ahead of the World Cup in Japan.
Australia crashed out in the quarter-finals and coach Michael Cheika, who admitted he had issues having to answer to his new boss, fell on his sword.
Securing the right new coach is paramount for Johnson, with New Zealander Dave Rennie the bookies’ favourite.
But with so many Wallabies retiring or moving to overseas club contracts after Japan, working with the country’s four Super Rugby franchises to bring the next wave of players to the fore, and keep them in Australia, is also key.
“There are only three things that I am about for the next four years,” Johnson said in an interview with the Weekend Australian newspaper.
“One, secure the talent. Two, get them fit. And three, coach the coaches.”
His plan, effectively, is to pick and stick, maintain some continuity and make sure those players are in peak condition.
Of the current Wallabies squad, he said the entire front row could be the backbone for France 2023, while also nominating Angus Bell and Zane Nonggorr from the under-18s as emerging talent to be fast-tracked.
Johnson also pointed to plenty of back row quality in the under-20s and below to nurture, while highlighting Jordan Petaia, James O’Connor and Marika Koroibete as mainstays among the backs over the next few years.
Moving forward, he said the Wallabies’ tactics, which were criticised by some at the World Cup, would also be addressed to help keep pace with the top teams.
“It’s no fluke that teams that kick the most seem to be winning,” he told the newspaper.
“Now that doesn’t mean that’s great but what it does mean is that we have to look at it. It doesn’t mean kicking in a negative way. It means kicking to control the game.”
Johnson also wants the Wallabies to stop “thinking” so much on the field.
“There are three parts to mastering a skill. There’s learning the skills, thinking about the skill and implementing the skill,” he said.
“What we want to be able to do in time is get rid of the ‘thinking’ part so it’s just learn the skill and do it. If we get rid of that thinking element – and it sounds like a dumb thing to say – then it becomes a quality product.”