'If that's us, we may as well not go to the World Cup'
He’s like a grim reaper, terrorising players at team meetings, but Laurie Fisher makes no apologies for trying to restore order in the Wallabies ranks and drag Australia back to the top of world rugby.
Two months after receiving the call-up he thought had passed him by, Fischer is proving anything but a shrinking violet in his role as an interim Wallabies assistant coach to Dave Rennie.
The 64-year-old former Brumbies mentor has standards and demands perfection.
Fisher has wasted little time reminding the Wallabies that mediocrity won’t be tolerated since replacing Matt Taylor as defence coach in the ugly aftermath to Australia’s record 17-48 loss to Argentina in San Juan in August.
“We looked at one clip from the second Argentina Test, which is really just about work rate, about communication, like [having] our hands on knees, line speed. Edges not pushing edges – lazy,” Fisher said before departing on the Wallabies’ five-Test year-end tour of Europe.
“I saw one clip from that game and said ‘This can’t be us. If that’s us, we may as well not go to the World Cup. We’ve got nothing’.
“That’s my starting point and we had one moment in the New Zealand game that very much reflected that Argentinian moment. So I showed that [footage] again and said ‘Listen, boys, [this is] unacceptable’.”
Fisher hopes the brutal honesty sessions will help transform the Wallabies from erratic, ninth-ranked pretenders to 2023 World Cup contenders.
“In Test rugby, you’ve got to be good all the time,” he said.
“You have a 30-second moment, anyone like the Kiwis have got seven points on you and you’re chasing your backside.
“So we’ve just got to be better, stronger as a group and just be really accountable to each other.”
A lack of discipline has been another Wallabies killer that Fisher won’t stand for.
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“Discipline comes from doing your basics well,” he said.
“If you’re good in front-end collisions, if you’re good around breakdown, you’re not giving away the penalties.
“You’re not under pressure. If you’re getting in front defensively and not slacking, you’re not giving away offside penalties.
“This tour is all about really, really developing our basics, valuing our basics and bedding all that down. Ground zero. We’re going to get that right and we’re going grow from there.”
After nursing his ageing parents not so long ago, Fisher confessed to having “no idea” the opportunity to coach the Wallabies would ever arrive.
Now the one-time PE teacher hopes to earn a full-time deal to take him through to next year’s World Cup in France – and likely retirement.
“That’s probably where we’re heading but there’s nothing agreed or signed off at this stage,” Fisher said.
“To get this at this stage of a career is like just a wonderful, full stop on on what will be 25 years in professional rugby.
“I’d certainly love to go to World Cup. It would be the cherry on top.”