Veteran coach Laurie Fisher has become the first Wallabies assistant to be let go in the aftermath of Eddie Jones’ return as national coach.
Fisher, who was brought into the national set up by Dave Rennie midway through last year, revealed he would not be continuing under Jones.
Fisher was brought in by Rennie to help address the Wallabies’ shocking issues with discipline.
“We looked at one clip from the second Argentina Test, which is really just about work rate, about communication – like our hands on knees, like line speed. Edges not pushing edges. Lazy,” Fisher told reporters after joining.
“I saw one clip from that game and said ‘this can’t be us, if that’s us, we may as well not go to the World Cup. We’ve got nothing.’
“That’s my starting point. And we had one moment in the New Zealand game that very much reflected that Argentinian moment. So I showed that again and said ‘listen, boys, unacceptable.’
“It’s easy to just find a couple of things. There are some really good things happening. But in Test rugby, you’ve got to be good all the time. We’ve got to be stronger as a group. And just be candid with each other about being the best we can be.”
Jones is currently actively trying to pull together a coaching team. He is known to favour assistants with rugby league backgrounds.
Eddie Jones vs. Michael Cheika: Let the fun begin.
Jones has take a friendly first crack at his old sparring partner, Cheika – the coach of Argentina – as they they prepare to resume their rivalry this year.
The pair went toe-to-toe when Jones toured Australia with England in 2016 and when Jones returned last year he bemoaned the lack of prickle in his relationship with Dave Rennie.
“In 2016 we had Cheika here and there was a bit of niggle – it was good, good Australian sport,” Jones said ahead of the opening clash in Perth last June.
“This time it feels like … I don’t know what it feels like. I prefer it like that, but you can’t spar against nothing.
“I like a bit of fun. When you’re sparring in a corner by yourself it’s not much fun.”
Jones has already made it clear he wants to have a bit of fun at Cheika’s expense ahead of their Rugby Championship match up in Parramatta this year.
The Wallabies coach was speaking on his weekly Eddie podcast about his plans for the international campaign when he was asked about the preparations for the clash with Argentina – one week after his comeback match against South Africa away.
“Cheik’s living in Paris now so he’s got to get his way back from Paris,” Jones quipped. “It must be a tough life being the Argentinian coach, hey? They’ll be well prepared, ensconced in Sydney. I’m sure he’ll be at the Crowne Plaza in Coogee and down the beach having a few coffees and enjoying himself. “
During last year’s tour Jones was also surprised at the Wallabies’ tactic of flying in late on the Thursday before Saturday games – a move that left the tourists to do the heavy lifting in the community and local media in the lead up to matches.
That is set to change under Jones – who seems more comfortable under the limelight, more niggly and more accessible than Rennie was, and wants his players to feel the atmosphere.
“My only worry about is what we’re going to do now rather than what’s been done in the past,” he said, refusing to criticise last year’s approach.
“For Sydney we will definitely be in Sydney given the preparation time and probably looking at staying near the beach because of the recovery side – so Coogee or Manly.
“For the Melbourne week, we’ll have a training camp at Sanctuary Cove. And then we’ll get in there on the Monday or the Tuesday, enjoy the environment of a Test week in Melbourne where you’re in one of the major sporting events in a major sporting city. It will different for the players but I’m sure they’ll adjust very quickly.”
Jones is facing a first for the Bledisloe Cup return in New Zealand – he has never coached at Forsyth Barr Satdium in Dunedin, the venue for game two which was opened in 2011.
The Junior Wallabies have named a 40-man squad as they prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023 in South Africa starting on June 24.
The Junior Wallabies are drawn to face Fiji, Ireland and England in the pool stage.
“It’s exciting to name such a strong squad while also knowing we still have a number of players working their way back from injury,” said coach Nathan Grey.
“Many of the young players selected showcased their skills at the National U19 Championships late last year, while others have been named on the back of a strong pre-season period for their clubs.
“With the disruptions of the last few years behind us, I’m looking forward to bringing the group together in Canberra and stepping up preparations for a huge 2023.”
There are some big emerging names on the list including Queenslanders Tom Lynagh, Floyd Aubrey and Taj Annan, Brumbies’ Lachlan Hooper and teddy Wilson, Jack Bowen and Max Jorgensen from the Waratahs.
Jorgensen, who had an impressive performance on the wing up against Aubrey last weekend, could find himself required for Super Rugby duty in the next few weeks.
Junior Wallabies Squad
Floyd Aubrey (GPS)
Taj Annan (Souths)
Tom Lynagh (UQ)
Harry McLaughlin-Phillips (Souths)
Willem Johnstone (Souths)
George Stoddart (Easts)
John Bryant (Souths)
Ben Daniels (Brothers)
Nick Bloomfield (Easts)
Harrison Usher (Bond)
Liam Bowron (Royals)
Massimo De Lutiis (Wests)
Lachlan Hooper (Tuggeranong)
Klayton Thorn (Gungahlin)
Henry Palmer (Tuggeranong)
Austin Anderson (Wests)
Matias Jensen (Randwick)
Jack Barrett (Randwick)
Jamie Clark (Sydney Uni)
Albert Alcock (West Harbour)
Fritz Jahnke-Tavana (Eastwood)
Ollie McCrea (Eastern Suburbs)
Jaydon Viliamu (Randwick)
Teddy Wilson (Eastern Suburbs)
Jack Bowen (Eastern Suburbs)
James Hendren (Randwick)
Archie Saunders (Warringah)
Henry O’Donnell (Northern Suburbs)
Max Jorgensen (Randwick)
*Darby Lancaster not considered due to AU Sevens commitments
Marley Pearce (Joondalup Brothers)
Ned Slack-Smith (Palmyra)
Ryan McGloin (Joondalup Brothers)
Caleb Karangaroa (Wandaroo)
Patrick Lavemai (Melbourne Harlequins/Wests Bulldogs)
Daniel Maiava (Wyndham Rhinos/Wests Bulldogs)
Leafi Talataina (Endeavour Hills)
Mason Gordon (Wests Bulldogs)
David Vaihu (Wests Bulldogs)
Lebron Naea (Endeavour Hills/Wests Bulldogs)
Zac Hough (Wests Bulldogs)
Alun Wyn Jones says the possibility of player strike action is “hard to deny” as Welsh rugby finds itself gripped by a professional contracts freeze.
But Jones, Wales’ record cap holder with 156 appearances, has also stressed that it would be “the very last option”.
Wales play fierce rivals England in Cardiff on Saturday week against a backdrop of recruitment being on hold and next season’s playing budgets not yet being finalised for the four professional regions of Cardiff, Ospreys, Dragons and Scarlets.
A new financial agreement between the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union has still to be confirmed in writing, sparking concern that a sizeable number of players whose contracts expire at the end of this season will head away from Wales, with a huge sense of uncertainty currently engulfing them and their families.
While Wales head coach Warren Gatland said he would not support his players if they decided to strike, he added: “I completely support the stance that they are taking in terms of wanting to get some resolution of the issues that they have.
“I am supportive of the players and the things that they are trying to do, and my role is just to prepare the team for next week.”
The New Zealander’s comments came after the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association (WRPA) said “players have had enough”.
Wales players, meanwhile, have made a squad decision to pause filming with Netflix, who are making a documentary on this season’s Six Nations.
Negotiations on the future of the professional game in Wales are handled by the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which comprises representatives from each of the regions, acting WRU chief executive Nigel Walker, WRU finance director Tim Moss and two independent members, including chair Malcolm Wall.
Walker met with senior members of the Wales squad on Wednesday “to further clarify the current position”.
Asked if strike action was a possibility, former Wales captain Jones said: “I suppose it is. It is hard to deny, but it is the very last option.
“There are people who are really impassioned. Ultimately, if you treat people badly for long enough, you get to where we find ourselves.
“Everyone wants to play the (England) game. Selected or not, I want to get back to the job.
“It’s about protecting the game to ensure it goes well for generations to come. We have to sort this out now. We can’t go back into this cycle of uncertainty.”
PRB chair Malcolm Wall, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that the WRU and clubs have been paying salaries that their businesses cannot afford.
But Gatland added: “It is a little disingenuous to say the players are being paid too much. I don’t see how it’s a fault of theirs.
“The bottom line is that we have been overspending in Wales for a number of years and some of the regions are in financial difficulty.”