Wallaby legend's plea to doubting Aussie fans
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Noting that sport was like business, rugby great Michael Lynagh has implored Australia’s doubting fans to get behind the Wallabies new Kiwi coach, declaring Dave Rennie as simply the best man for the job.
Critics have been quick to predict more doom and gloom after the five-year reign of fellow well-credentialled New Zealander Robbie Deans ended in 2013 without a single Bledisloe Cup series win.
Even Rennie’s predecessor Michael Cheika hoped Rugby Australia would punt on a home-grown coach to take charge.
But with RA chief Raelene Castle claiming there were no sufficiently qualified Australian candidates, Rennie this week signed on for the next four years.
And 23 years into rugby’s professional era, Lynagh says Australia’s passionate and patriotic need to take a pragmatic approach to Rennie’s appointment.
“Sport’s very emotional so of course we want an Australian coaching Australia. England want an Englishman coaching England too and they’ve got an Australian coach,” Lynagh told AAP on Friday.
“Different sports have all got different nationalities coaching them.
“I take the emotion out of it and say: ‘OK, what would a business fellow in New Zealand do? What would an engineering company do when looking for a new leader and they put an ad in the paper?’
“They’d try and find the best person to interview for that job.
“If Dave Rennie’s gone through the process and is the best person for that job, then so be it.
“He happens to be a New Zealander, but he’s done all this body of work and he’s actually quite an experienced guy.”
Hailed as Australian rugby’s saviour when ushered in after the Wallabies’ 2007 World Cup quarterfinal flop, Deans wound up a target for disillusioned fans when Australia were unable to wrestle back the Bledisloe during his six attempts.
Lynagh believes the best solution is for Rennie to groom Australian coaches – as RA hopes he does as they pursue Europe-based pair Matt Taylor and Scott Wisemantel – so that the Wallabies’ next head coach will indeed be a local.
“What I do hope is that some of, if not all, of his staff could be Australians because you only get experience in international coaching by doing it,” Lynagh said at the launch of the International Rugby Academy of Australia in Sydney.
“If he takes along a few Australians with them, then fantastic.
“But if he’s the best person for the job, give him a big tick and get behind him.”