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'Laurie brings that': Why 'there's no one better' to help Joe Schmidt restore key trait to Wallabies

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27th February, 2024
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Eddie Jones made a lot of strange decisions during 2023 and one of the early ones was to dump Laurie Fisher in favour of coaches like Brett Hodgson and Jason Ryles with little to no rugby union experience.

In a pivotal scene of the new Wallabies documentary chronicalling the Wallabies’ disastrous World Cup campaign, Jones bleats to James Slipper about the players’ lack of hardness ‘”standing out like dog’s balls.”

But at the start of Jones’ return he packed off Fisher, who had only just been added to the Wallabies coaching ranks under Dave Rennie.

Fisher got under Jones’ skin too, when he last appeared on The Roar Rugby Podcast and singled out the performance of Jones darling Hodgson.

Jones said Fisher’s comments – he was with Australia A at the time – were inappropriate.

History suggests that there may well be a link between Jones’ dismissal of Fisher and his eventual realisation that the the Wallabies weren’t hard enough for World Cup battle.

Fisher returned to the podcast this week and said he was keen to help Australian rugby develop its coaching – something many stakeholders believe to be a burning necessity.

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Roar Rugby podcast co-host and former Wallaby Matt Toomua said while that was much needed, he also believed Fisher should form part of new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt’s assistant coach roster.

“Hearing him talk about coaching the coaches that’s really interesting as well, because I think that’s the element, our coach’s development, that we’ve lacked in Australia for a while – so having someone like Laurie in that area would be great,” said Toomua.

Laurie Fisher

Laurie Fisher. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

“With the Wallabies? Yes. Any team, he’s coached, it does the hard stuff well, does the breakdown well.

“I’d love to see our Wallabies being a team that’s really hard to beat, they’re just tough and at the breakdown they’re going to compete for everything. And then we can add the gloss.

“Joe Schmidt sounds like he’s got a lot of systems of attack that he works really well with, but I think if you’re not winning that physical battle then you’re not getting any points in a Test match.

“Laurie brings that for me. I think there’s no one better that we could have. But to hear that he’s passionate about coaching coaches as well is awesome because I think that’s what we need in Australian Rugby.”

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Fisher, who left his long-standing role with the Brumbies last year, has been spending time in Japan where he reunited with Rennie at Kobe last weekend and was helping out Peter Hewat at Ricoh Black Rams.

“I had a good chat with Dave,” said Fisher. “It was great to catch up. He’s really enjoying his time over here.

“It’s a fresh start, a new new environment, and it’s got plenty of challenges as with language and styles.”

Fisher was reluctant to rake over the coals of Rennie’s exit but made it clear he felt the Wallabies were on the right track under the Kiwi.

“We really spoke about the future as opposed to the past. That’s happened and there was no point in dwelling on that,” said Fisher.

“But I did feel in my small time at the back end of 2022, that there were genuine areas of progress.

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“I feel as though we identified them through the northern hemisphere tour and we were in a good position to progress our game in 2023.

“How far that was going to be, who knows? But I definitely felt that we had identified some really key areas around ball retention, around ruck speed, around what we do in defence.

“It would have really put us in good stead for World Cup. So that was disappointing. But in the end, you move on and you attack what’s in front of you and you leave what’s behind you.

“When you’ve coached for a long time as Dave has he’s got a way that he sees the game and whether it’s the Chiefs or the Wallabies, or whether it’s Kobe, he’s trying to get them to play a style of football that he’s comfortable with, that he knows works.

“You can see a lot of that in Kobe in their counter attack game. In their kicking game. You can see that New Zealand influence around breakdown. I mean, he’s moved on and reinvigorated his coaching.”

Keen to hear more thoughts on the Australian coaching scene from the great Laurie Fisher? You can stream it here or on your podcast app of choice!

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