Relentless Rennie will 'take no prisoners'
REACTION: A massive culture change will have to be part of the new landscape if New Zealander Dave Rennie is to turn the Wallabies from losers into winners.
Rennie, 56, has a no-nonsense approach that will not sit well with the ‘player power’ culture currently prevalent in Australia.
Former All Black assistant coach Wayne Smith, a long-time ally of Rennie, said the newly appointed Wallaby coach is the kind of person that will “take no prisoners”.
Smith described Rennie as “relentless, unwavering and loyal”.
Smith knows Rennie’s coaching ethos inside out, suggesting his hard-line modus operandi can translate to success with a struggling Australian team.
Smith, who had already steered the Crusaders to Super Rugby titles in 1998 and 1999, before going on be an assistant coach of the All Blacks, worked alongside Rennie as an assistant at the Chiefs.
In 2011, the year before the pair came on board, the Chiefs finished bottom of the New Zealand conference with six wins from 16 outings. A string of players exited stage left after the World Cup later that year and Rennie was tasked with rebuilding a weakened franchise with trusty sidekick Smith.
The result? Two Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.
Rennie’s reputation in New Zealand after that could not have been greater.
“He will be relentless in his pursuit of excellence and expects all around him to be the same,” Smith said in an interview published on Stuff.
“He’ll take no prisoners in this regard. ‘Rens’ expects loyalty and trust then gives it back in spades.”
In the days since Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle and Director of Rugby Scott Johnson confirmed Rennie had been rubber-stamped as just the second Kiwi – after Robbie Deans – to lead the men in gold, finding someone to speak ill of the 55-year-old has become a difficult task.
“You don’t find anyone in New Zealand who says a bad word about him,” says 70-Test All Blacks legend Andrew Mehrtens.
“He stays out of the limelight, he wants to get in and do his job and do it as well as possible.
“He’ll pull together a group of guys and put his passion into it and wants them to get a good experience out of it. He’ll absolutely throw everything he can into the Wallabies.
“He’s coached alongside the man I’ve probably got the most respect for in rugby, Wayne Smith, and Smithy can’t speak more highly of the guy.”
Rennie’s approach to the game is also well-documented.
“He is unwavering in his commitment to attack,” Smith said of Rennie.
“Players will have to lose their conservative ideas and be open to myriad possibilities of how to use the ball in a positive and logical way.
“Even behind their own goal line, if opportunities present themselves, you’d better take them.”
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Rennie has already said he does not expect a honeymoon period when he arrives in Australia in the middle of next year.
He will be in close contact with Johnson, who Rennie worked alongside in Scotland, as well as Super Rugby coaches to ensure the players who arrive for Wallabies camp are physically and technically up to scratch.
Those close to Rennie say reputations count for little.
For example, when Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell left Glasgow, Rennie was unperturbed, despite his status.
When Huw Jones was tearing it up for Scotland, he was hardly getting a run at Glasgow under Rennie.
Retired All Black Murray Mexted played provincial rugby with Rennie, a clever inside-centre, many years ago at Wellington and has no doubts he will flourish in the new role.
“He’s a great appointment for Australian rugby,” Mexted said.
“He’s understated, very relaxed and a mellowed guy. His knowledge is significant and his ability to get the best out of players and teams is very relevant. He’s one of the good buggers and just a good man.”
Sources: Stuff & Sun-Herald
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