VIDEO: Rennie's frank assessment of Wallabies
INTERVIEW: Dave Rennie, entering his second season as head coach of the Wallabies, has talked up the French side that will be visiting Australia’s shores later this year and acknowledged that 2020 didn’t really go quite as well as the Kiwi coach had hoped.
In Rennie’s first year in charge, the Wallabies finished bottom of the Tri-Nations log and recorded just one victory from their six matches played.
Three of their games ended in draws, including both of their clashes with Argentina, while their sole win came against an out of sorts All Blacks side in a match where both teams conceded a red card.
Rennie, speaking from a coaching clinic in regional New South Wales, lamented the draws with Argentina while also commenting that the results from 2020 were a fair reflection of where the Wallabies currently stand.
“We were frustrated because we couldn’t put the Argentinians away but, to be honest, that’s where we’re at,” he said. “I think if we’d won those two Argentinian games and won a bit of silverware, maybe everyone would think that all the problems were solved – and we’re miles off that.
“So we’ve got a lot of work to do, but [we’ve got] good men, great attitude, keen to learn, prepared to work hard and so we’ve got to build on that.”
Later this year, a young but capable French side will travel south with the hopes of earning a first victory against the Wallabies on Australian shores in over three decades.
With the likes of Harry Wilson, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami and Filipo Daugunu all earning ample game time in 2020, Australia’s national side isn’t exactly lacking in youthful exuberance either, but the fast-improving tourists should offer a massive challenge to the home team.
“I reckon they’d be favourites to win the Six Nations,” said Rennie. “They’re really impressive. They’ve created really good depth and I think you’ve got so many foreigners over there playing [in the Top 14] who are high-quality players and I reckon that’s assisted with their game.
“They’re impressive, that’ll be a really tough challenge. But it’s what we need. We’ve got a really good international programme this year and we’ll play all of the top sort of eight or nine teams.”
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As well as playing New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the Rugby Championship, Australia are also scheduled for matches against Scotland and England come the end of year tour to Europe. At least two fixtures are still to be confirmed, though there are rumours that the Wallabies could go up against Japan and Wales this year.
Speaking on the New Zealand rivalry, Rennie admitted that Australia will always be a step-behind their trans-Tasman neighbours due to their rival’s obsession with rugby.
“I think it’s inbred in the country and the DNA of rugby, there’s no AFL, there’s not really a strong rugby league presence compared to rugby and I think it’s very strong in all high schools so yeah, they’ve got a little bit of a conveyor belt of talent coming out.
“It’s a good system; the NPC system has got 14 more sides who play and that feeds into Super Rugby so it’s very well-structured and we won’t be able to get to that sort of structure based on what’s here with AFL and NRL but that’s why these days are important, [for] exposing and developing as many community coaches as we can to improve the quality of the players coming through. We’re certainly doing a lot of work and a lot of planning around it at the moment, it’s exciting times.”
The Wallabies won’t assemble until much later in the year but, in the meantime, Rennie will have his sight focussed firmly on the Super Rugby competition, which kicks off on February 19.