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Exclusive: 'We'll improve': Eddie's parting shot at Wallabies assistant after sensationally quitting RWC campaign

17th August, 2023
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17th August, 2023
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The Wallabies’ World Cup campaign is only about to start, but already they’ve hit a hurdle with their attack coach quitting just hours before their flight to France.

The Roar revealed on Thursday morning that Brad Davis, who was announced as Eddie Jones’ attack coach in May, has quit effective immediately for “personal reasons”.

Jones had a pointed shot at Davis when he was asked about the situation at Sydney airport at noon on Thursday as the team prepared to fly out for France.

Asked why Davis quit, Jones responded: “Family reasons, mate. There’s an opportunity for us. And I think we’ll improve our coaching staff.

“We had a discussion a couple of nights ago.

“There’s a potential candidate ready to step up now. As I said, I think we’ll improve the coaching staff.”

He was asked to confirm it was Davis’ decision to stand aside. “Yeah, we had a discussion, yeah,” Jones responded.

Davis is likely to become Les Kiss’ defence coach at Queensland Reds. He was Kiss’ assistant at London Irish before Kiss took over the Reds head coach position. Davis had been expected back at the English club after the World Cup – only for it to suffer a financial crisis.

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Attack Coach Brad Davis during the Australian Wallabies training session at Sanctuary Cove on June 29, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Brad Davis has quit the Wallabies on the eve of their departure to France for the World Cup. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

It’s an extraordinary revelation on the eve of the World Cup, which once again casts a great shadow of doubt over Eddie Jones’ “smash and grab” job. The Wallabies are due to fly out of Sydney on Thursday afternoon.

A Wallabies spokesman confirmed The Roar‘s report, saying “confirming Brad Davis won’t be with us to the World Cup. It’s all happened pretty quickly but he has some personal matters he needs to attend to in the UK.”

While Jones was running the attack, Davis’ remit was to implement the Wallabies coach’s game-plan. Now, Davis won’t be on hand in France.

It’s understood the former rugby league player turned defence coach wasn’t enjoying the coaching environment under Jones, with the Wallabies boss known for his relentless appetite to work and demanding leadership style.

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But for a squad that has already been rocked by several huge changes to the entire Wallabies set up, Davis’ departure is yet another blow for the continuity and confidence of the group.

Just who Jones replaces Davis with remains to be seen.

Jones ruled out Scott Wisemantel, who resigned a fortnight before Dave Rennie was sacked, jumping on board for the campaign despite acting as a consultant since his long-time right-hand man jumped back on board with the Wallabies.

Two-time World Cup member Berrick Barnes, who has been working with Jones as an assistant, predominantly with the side’s kickers, is another option. At this point, he was due to coach alongside Jason Gilmore and Laurie Fisher with the Barbarians next month.

Already the Wallabies have had to grapple with the brutal axing of Rennie to parachute Jones into the head coaching role in January – mere days after their first training camp of the year.

Wisemantel, the experienced assistant who has been Jones’ right-hand man at the past two World Cup campaigns, surprised many be resigning a week before Rennie’s first training camp.

Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones (C) has lost one assistant coach on the eve of the World Cup. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

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Indeed, rising coach and Wallabies forwards assistant Dan McKellar stood down to accept the role as Leicester head coach. As did scrum coach Petrus du Plessis.

While defence coach Laurie Fisher, who came into the role last August following Matt Taylor’s sudden departure following the Wallabies’ record loss in Argentina, was let go by Jones.

In their places have come an eclectic mix of coaches, including former State of Origin fullback Brett Hodgson as their defence coach, an-ex halfback, Pierre Henry Broncan, as the Wallabies’ maul coach and scrum specialist, Dan Palmer, expanding his portfolio as their lineout assistant.

The Wallabies’ squad has had to endure several moving parts since Dave Rennie was let go in January. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Before standing down, Davis was predominantly a defence coach before being asked to be Jones’ attack assistant.

Nor have the changes been in the back room either, with Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper not selected for their World Cup campaign.

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Jones said it was important to usher through a new generation of players, who are capable of leading the Wallabies to World Cup glory not just in 2023 but 2027 also.

Yet, the omissions of several senior players, including Jed Holloway, have seen more dramatic changes on the eve of the Wallabies’ biggest moment on the field since their 2019 quarter-final loss to Jones’ England side in Japan.

Jones slammed reporters for concentrating on the past and not looking to the future during a media doorstop at Sydney International Airport.

“I don’t know why you’re going back to that,” Jones said after being probed as to whether he spoke to Cooper about his omission before the World Cup squad was announced.

“That’s probably reflective of Australian rugby. We’ve got to move on to a World Cup with a great young squad and you’re still talking about players we haven’t selected. We’ve tried to ring him, that’s all I can do.”

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