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Jed, Ned and Tane Edmed: The direction Joe Schmidt should head to put Eddie era to bed

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5th March, 2024
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Australia infamously stayed in the pool in 2023’s World Cup. What were the key shortfalls of the woebegone Wallabies?

As new coach Joe Schmidt looks to fill his squad, what holes will he look to fill?

A few of the facets which led to an early exit can be bolstered by a Waratah trio we might call ‘The Eds’

Ned, Jed and Edmed – the Forgotten Waratahs.

This is no knee jerk reaction to one Super Round game, even if beating the Crusaders as well and surely as the Tahs did is the kind of outlier worth studying.

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

The reasons for why the Eds may end up being far more involved in the Wallaby 2024 and 2025 seasons than they were in 2023 are two-fold: Ned Hanigan, Jed Holloway and Tane Edmed have the strengths which address the weaknesses of Annus Eddie, whilst being adaptive to the kinds of systems Schmidt has shown he is wedded to: a starter play driven attack which wheels around a disciplined and physical ten, de-emphasizes offloads, is obsessed with cleaning the first five rucks narrowly and then going wide-wide, which demands accuracy and work rate from lock-flanks and vision from a tough general.

Ned Hanigan poses during the Australian Wallabies 2022 team headshots session on June 24, 2022 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Ned Hanigan poses during the Australian Wallabies 2022 team headshots session on June 24, 2022 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)


On cue, Schmidt called Edmed a general of interest, after the win, the second of the fiery son of a League gun over the kings of the South in a very short career.

But first, the big fellows.

Hanigan is a rangy and active lock-blindside tweener, mandatory in today’s game, keen to bust mauls and clean rucks like he is back on the ranch, and also brings a happy vibe to a team which was far too grim.

Hanigan is funny enough I suggested he be Taylor Swift’s next boyfriend (after the inevitable breakup) and the Tahs social media director approved. That tells you about the country boy: the club likely knew he would have a laugh.

His episode with us on The Roar podcast is easily the funniest interview I have ever been a part of; but is he tough? Is he tough enough?

I know he is. I think Schmidt likes the kind of tough he is; the same fibre as he chose in Ireland. Resilience. Humility.


The Finns have a word in their esoteric language: “sisu.” Apparently it has no easy translation; connoting stoicism, tenacity, hardiness, grit, bravery, and humility.

Hanigan does not give up or give in. When he was picked a bit early, as Tom Hooper likely was last year, to be a bouncer for Michael Cheika’s pack, he was mercilessly ripped on social media. For him now to be still growing in technique, power, and work rate; and having a laugh, shows Test class toughness.

Jed Holloway is a grown man doing grown man work in much the same role: depth in the second row is key to Test success over a long grinding season. Even if he does not win the weight show in the gym, he is hard to injure and accelerates into contact, which creates the turnover tackles the Wallabies need and have been lacking.

Harry Wilson of the Waratahs celebrates a try during the round two Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park, on March 02, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Another lock-flank, Holloway is a lineout option who can bother opponent ball; another hole in the Jones Era, when opposition lineout was a freebie.

Edmed can be the executor of the plans Schmidt is making: allowing those around him to flourish by being direct, disciplined, and full of good fire.

To remind us all of the horror: a short slice of a France 2023 post-mortem.


The Wallabies had 320 minutes of a bolter blindside in France: no knock on the “wrong” Hooper who tried his utmost to make a dent, but he did not even make a wrinkle.

He made 28 carries into contact, failing to make the gainline more than he did, seldom stepping a tackler or busting a tackle, soaking up 54 tackles but only five of them classified as “dominant” by Opta, zero turnovers or steals, and less effective (4.8%) in defensive rucks than ten other players; not a bouncer’s blindside statistics.

Nor was there the feel of a real presence by Hooper: no moment of magic, no electricity, and an unbearable sense of lightness in tackle.

Nick Frost had 200 minutes on the park in France and only 1 of his 18 tackles were Opta-dominant; he made no turnover tackles, and hit six rucks with only one involvement classified as “effective” by Opta.

Richie Arnold had 69 more minutes than Frost; he carried merely acceptably without power, hit three fewer rucks and never dominated a tackle at all. Arnold and Frost are locks’ locks; but the point is cleans, carries and tackles have to come from somewhere.

The two top teams in the Cup had Pieter-Steph du Toit and Scott Barrett, respectively, as their 5.5 jokers and in du Toit’s case, always a flank, and both teams had bench or squad cover for those roles.


Versatility is vital in Test rugby as cards are more common, attack schemes find weak defenders quicker, and far more rucks are built, which require one or two attendants, and with three rucks sometimes only taking twelve seconds to form and clear, speedy lock-flanks like Marcos Kremer or Courtney Lawes are paramount.

In general, Australia’s power carries in the Cup were far below what was needed, only making the gainline through evasion, which tends to dry up in the tightest matches.

Let us also explode a myth.

The Wallabies had good set pieces in 2023. The Wallabies squandered the highest scrum completion rate (96%) and top five lineout success (86%) with no maul and atrocious ball retention on attack.

Therefore, the need to look at Holloway and Hanigan, as Hooper continues to grow into his body and Aussie lock depth still lags.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Angus Scott-Young is playing very well in England and could be looked at, as well another Forgotten Man, Harry Wilson, who can play at six.


The other key issue for the Jones Debacle came at game management: flyhalf.

Ben Donaldson and Carter Gordon are both fine club players, but one fancies only a blend of the two is a Test No. 10 over the long haul, with Gordon’s kicking frailties (for goal and to the line) and Donaldson’s tendency to freeze under pressure.

Noah Lolesio was not properly used by Eddie Jones: he seemed the best bet, given the cap count, to go to France if Quade Cooper was to be foolishly discarded.

The results on attack were predictable: very little shape, mostly hero-ball and shovels, intermittently, until the Welsh landslide buried the painful experiment in Lyon.

The Wallabies were the worst team in the tournament – just behind Romania — on getting the ball wider than second receiver: only 3.5% (Ireland got there 21% of the time).

Out there, on the wings, were the Wallabies’ weapons.

Enter 23-year old Edmed, who has shown an ability to see support whilst he makes breaks in a way superior to Gordon. He is also rugged enough to absorb hits in the manner Finn Russell or Jack Crowley are in the Six Nations, which almost always provides a channel for a big twelve to steam through.


But is he fast enough?

He had to turn and track back on Sevu Reece’s chip and chase on the weekend, and not only did he catch Reece, he gained the shoulder, outpaced six other backs over 50 metres, and in the end comfortably ended the try attempt.

Not many flyhalves besides Edmed, Richie Mo’unga, Manie Libbok, and maybe Gordon (who may be more of a number twelve in instinct) could expect to have done that, and most of us would not have expected Edmed to.

Schmidt helped Johnny Sexton become one of the best leaders of an attack in rugby history; despite relative immobility. He might see Edmed more as a Crowley type (only one year younger) with a keen mind to learn detail and a bloodline of toughness in contact.

Would all three of the Eds start? Not likely, but RG Snyman is as valuable a player as there is, and is seen as a forever bench bomb for the Boks. Hanigan is a set piece operator who can also operate in space and has very good hands. Holloway is a contact man and seldom misses a clean. Edmed might be the pupil the teacher wants to have.