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'We'll sack him and be in the same position': Ex-Wallaby condemns Larkham snub as Schmidt deal CONFIRMED

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19th January, 2024
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New Zealander Joe Schmidt has been confirmed as the Wallabies’ new coach on a two-year deal through to the end of the British and Irish Lions tour.

The 58-year-old spent more than six years as head coach of Ireland and joins from the All Blacks where he was an assistant to Ian Foster at the World Cup.

He won three Six Nations titles with Ireland but was let go following a quarter-final exit at the 2019 World Cup.

Schmidt follows the disastrous and short second coming of Eddie Jones – who led the Wallabies to a worst-ever World Cup result in France, before walking out on a code in crisis to rejoin Japan as the Brave Blossoms’ coach.

Jones had been given a five-year deal and the calamitous nature of his return – which also claimed the scalp of RA chair Hamish McLennan – is reason for caution when it comes to contract length for the new coach.

Schmidt, who starts on March 1, follows Dave Rennie and Robbie Deans as Kiwis given the Wallabies’ head coach role.

Other candidates linked to the role included Dan McKellar and Stephen Larkham, and there are many who believe Australia’s head coach should be an Australian.

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Former Test player Greg Martin argued Larkham’s case on his Triple M Breakfast with Marto, Margaux & Dan show on Friday.

“Robbie Deans was appointed as the Wallaby coach about ten years ago then Dave Rennie only about five years ago and was sacked for Eddie Jones. So, we’ve had two Kiwis, and both times it’s ended in tears and we’re about to go down the same track,” said Martin.

“We needed Stephen Larkham, we needed a bloke who has won a World Cup who is an Australian.

“We’re going to overlook another Australian … for another Kiwi to coach Australia, bad move in my mind!

“We’ll get beaten by the Kiwis in July and August and everyone will go, ‘Oh well, that was a dud!,’ we’ll sack him (Joe Schmidt) and we’ll be back in the same position again.”

Schmidt will report to Rugby Australia’s new director of high performance, Peter Horne. They have worked togeher previously with World Rugby, while Schmidt is also close to RA advisor David Nucifora from their time together in Ireland.

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“The upcoming Test matches against Wales will arrive quickly, post-Super Rugby, and the program through to the British and Irish Lions Tour next year presents plenty of opportunities and challenges – which I am sure will invigorate players and staff.

“I am looking forward to connecting with Super Rugby coaches, RA staff, and getting to observe and meet players in the coming months.”

Horne explained the recruitment process.

“It has been a thorough process to make sure that we have landed the best and most suitable candidate – conducted by a panel including Dan Herbert and Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, John Eales, David Nucifora, RA’s head of people and culture and myself,” Horne said in a statement.

“It was a unanimous decision to appoint Joe – everyone on the panel was impressed by his demeanour, his calm and logical approach to the game, as well as his communication style.

“Throughout his career, Joe has demonstrated an ability to take a leadership role in structural reform while developing a strong culture and world-class players.

New Zealanders have surprisingly given new Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt the edge over All Blacks coach Scott Robertson as both head into their maiden Rugby Championship campaigns.

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In a poll run by the NZ Herald, fans voted that Schmidt was the better coach, with 41% of readers giving the former Ireland head coach the thumbs up.

Only 37% of readers voted for Robertson, who has taken charge of the All Blacks after guiding the Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles.

22% were on the fence and are waiting for the first Bledisloe Cup match between the two teams.

Schmidt was appointed as Wallabies head coach last week, taking over from Eddie Jones, and will coach Australia through to at least the end of the British & Irish Lions Series in 2025.

The New Zealander was in charge of Ireland for six years between 2013 and 2019, winning three Six Nations titles and World Rugby’s Coach of the Year award in 2018. Under Schmidt, Ireland also claimed their first ever win against the All Blacks.

“From my personal experience working with Joe at World Rugby, he is an ideal fit for the Wallabies and Australian Rugby at this time, and I am looking forward to working closely with him on developing a stronger alignment with our Super Rugby clubs to maximise our performances.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh said Schmidt had a proven track record.

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“Joe has delivered success at every stop in his career – winning European titles with Leinster, winning Six Nations championships, leading Ireland to World No.1 for the first time and, most recently, his role in the All Blacks’ run to the Rugby World Cup final,” Waugh said.

“He has also been a World Coach of the Year after he won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2018.

“Given our stated plan to build a unified Australian Rugby system, Joe’s experience with Ireland and New Zealand – two of the most aligned Rugby nations in the world – will no doubt prove valuable as we move forward.

“He has a global view of the game from his experience in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and his appointment puts us in a strong position as we build towards the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour.”

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