Wallabies coach says stats back Aussie Super surge
SPOTLIGHT: The improved results of Australian Super Rugby Pacific teams may have surprised many but not Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who said the signs were there.
The Waratahs, who didn’t win a single game last season and were considered AUS$15 outsiders against the Crusaders, knocked over the New Zealand heavyweights in the last round.
The Brumbies made it two from two, adding the scalp of the Hurricanes to their Kiwi collection.
Melbourne held out Auckland-based Moana Pasifika while Queensland and the Western Force both came within a try of victories over New Zealand teams.
The Perth side was particularly gallant, keeping the ladder-leading Blues try-less in the second half of their 18-22 defeat.
The win record for that one round eclipsed the entire season of Super Rugby trans-Tasman last year, when Australian teams only managed a miserly two from 25 games.
Upon taking over as Wallabies coach in early 2020, Rennie immediately identified fitness as a “non-negotiable” if the Australian players wanted to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the All Blacks.
He said a game-plan and skills would count for little if conditioning fell away at crucial moments.
With the Australian set-up working more closely with the Super Rugby sides, they are starting to reap the rewards.
“We gather GPS data from all the sides and our sports scientist Warwick Harrington goes through all of that and he shares information back to the clubs around the intensity and various numbers that are important to us,” Rennie told AAP.
“There’s been a distinct improvement this year and we’ve seen the benefits of that on the park.
“We’re really happy with the shifts made at Super level and I think our players are better conditioned.”
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) May 5, 2022
The skill levels of Australian players have also lagged behind their trans-Tasman counterparts but Rennie felt they were also on the up.
To compete technically and tactically he said they had to get the basics right.
“Skill sets have improved and there’s been a lot of emphasis put on that and at Test level there’s even more pressure so we’ve still got a way to go,” said Rennie.
“But there’s been good shifts, I reckon, and we’ve seen that on the weekend.
“It gives us confidence, it gives our players confidence to know that playing against some of the best players in the world they can stand up.”
Heading into Round 12 the Brumbies sit second on the Super Rugby ladder and have scored the same amount of tries as the table-topping Blues, with 41.
On Saturday they travel to Waikato to face the fourth-placed Chiefs, who lead many of the competition statistics.
The last time the Brumbies won three in a row against New Zealand opposition was in back 2014 when they bowed out in the semifinals and the Wararahs won the trophy – the most-recent title by an Australian team.
The match will give a clearer indication of the real credentials of the Australian teams, given they all failed miserably on New Zealand soil last year.