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All new Wallabies: The Dave Rennie brief

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Expert
21st November, 2019
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Dave Rennie? Sure – why not? Last Kiwi coach went okay, didn’t he? Well, mmmkay, say.

Robbie Deans took Canterbury to a bunch of titles. Was well known as a top coach. Came over. Brushed Matt Giteau. Wallabies went mmmkay. And off he went.

Ewen McKenzie came in because apparently, as in cricket, we needed an Aussie coach to teach the Aussie way.

And the Wallabies were still mmmkay, also, before the well-credentialled Michael Cheika extracted all the juice he could, and Australia played out of their skin in starbursts, and largely mmmkay otherwise.

And now our man Rennie can… well, do his best. For there’s a bit of a job ahead of him given, y’know, the ‘players’ he can call on and blood.

Because that’s pretty much his brief. The Australia Under-20s and schoolboys beat New Zealand teams in the last year or so. That’s the next wave. These guys, the kids, why not just bung ‘em in?

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Forget 2020 in terms of scoreboard results. Let’s lose heroically! Even magnificently! Use 2020 as a petri dish. Make the Wallabies a virtual Under-23 team.

Call ‘em Dave’s Babes.

Michael Hooper can captain. Scott Sio can stay too. And everyone else? Dave’s Babes, baby.

Why not? Who’s coming out in June? Ireland? Who cares who it is? Every Test from here til France in 2023 should be about blooding Davey’s babies, and forging men.

So what if we get flogged by the All Blacks? going to happen anyway. Who cares if it’s 40-20 or 50-10?

Long as in 2023 we go to France with battle-scarred, fit, skilful players who’ve been humbled, bashed and beaten, and didn’t like it, and now want dear sweet revenge.

Worked for Phil Kearns giving Sean Fitzpatrick the two-finger salute.

It’s an oldie but a goodie: good enough, old enough. And even if they aren’t, bung ’em in until they are.

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See: Tim Horan, Jason Little, John Eales, Joe Roff.

Pat Howard? Not so much.

But at least we knew.

Jordan Petaia should’ve been first picked in Game 1 of the World Cup and unleashed on Wales. Roff was good enough. So is this boy Petaia. Not playing him obviously made sense, but it’s like plunging on the 5-2 favourite that you know will run a race when you also know the three-year-old colt is the best horse in the race.

Jordan Petaia

Jordan Petaia. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

And Rugby Australia should now clear the decks and blood the kids, and bring over some hot leaguies – find a group North Sydney hedge-fund managers to buy Kalyn Ponga, Latrell Mitchell, Jordan Rapana and David Fifita.

Give ’em Sonny Bill Williams money. There’s more of it where that came from. Australia’s pot of superannuation is the world’s greatest ever perpetually growing well of gold. Dip in while no-one’s looking, bring Ponga to rugby. Everyone’s happy, at least until the Royal Commission, but no-one will be jailed and everyone will be paid.

They’re not going to do that, though, are they.

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And chances are Rennie’s not going to have an Under-23s team staining his CV. Rennie doesn’t want to get flogged.

He’ll pick the best team he can, from the best-performing Super Rugby team, and the Waratahs, and into the Ireland or Wales or whoever it is Test match we’ll go, with the kids on the bench given a sniff here or there.

Bugger that! Bung. Them. In!

Start them. Have an entire backline, no-one over 22.

Won’t happen? Sure. And Rennie will pick his best XXIII, and maybe they’ll win a game here or there. And that will be nice. But come the World Cup, Bledisloe, Mandela and Cook of 2023, and we’ll be shuffling deckchairs again.

Or we could play long game. Silverware in three or four years, or death. And do it with a group of men then in their mid-20s who’ve played 4000 minutes of Test rugby. Yep – kids with 50 full Tests.

The Wallabies in Japan, if we’re fair dinkum, going out in the quarter-final was par. Anything else was a bonus. That’s how good a rugby nation Australia is. That’s the level – what are we? Sixth or seventh on the IRB rankings? Anything below No.3, it’s effectively the abyss.

If we’d beaten Wales, which never looked likely anyway, and taken the easier South African side route into the semi-finals, it would’ve scotched over stuff, just as getting into the 2015 Rugby World Cup final did.

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Michael Cheika

Giving good consolatory hugs is a bonus. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Wallabies are… well, they’re not very good. Not in relative terms to the top five, say, world units.

Yes, beating the All Blacks in Perth was only a few months ago. Seems like 1912. And of that team, lots are off to Japan or France or to save ever more white rhinos.

Samu Kerevi’s off to Japan and he’ll play for Fiji down the track, is my tip. Why not? Off tangent a bit but Oceania rugby teams should get first dibs on guys who want to play for Oceania. First-world nations Australia and New Zealand can train them up – call it foreign aid – and then these types can make a call when they’ve had enough.

That or World Rugby takes some money from the mega-millions the World Cup created and make it financially attractive for those guys to play for their parents’ homeland, the place to which they feel so culturally attached.

Those guys go and play for these teams, and sing the anthem, they cry. They love Australia, no doubt. They don’t cry in the anthem.

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Another story. But it’ll be a thing – blokes with heritage will come through the Aussie system, play five years, earn 20, 40 caps, whatever, then brush it for Europe or Japan, and after a year or two, whatever they have to wait, tear out for Tonga.

Leaguies are doing it. Tonga’s going gangbusters. It’s shaken up international league.

That probably won’t happen either.

Dave’s Babes? Dare to dream.