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Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

International Rugby: Wallabies wake up to their shortcomings

Source: New Zealand Herald
By: Gregor Paul

The Wallabies have at last swallowed a dose of reality and admitted they need to hire a raft of specialist coaches if they are to be contenders at next year's World Cup.

Top of their list is the need to find a scrummaging expert, with coaches specialising in lineouts, offloads and restarts also being sought.

But it is their scrummaging which appears in most drastic need of improvement.

Having somehow survived for the best part of the last decade with a front five that were barely NPC standard, the Wallabies finally had their frailties exposed last season.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Gary Flowers said the end-of-season review process that led to the sacking of former coach Eddie Jones was responsible for highlighting other other areas that needed to be addressed.

Flowers said: "The clock is ticking but we will put the right structure and the right coaching team in place to put the Wallabies in a winning position for 2007.

"If we are to be brutally honest, we are significantly behind many of our competitors in key areas of the game. We remain number one in areas like defence but elsewhere - restarts, offloads, lineouts and scrummaging we are deficient compared with our major rivals."

The news that the ARU are no longer prepared to stand back and watch the Wallabies tumble down the world rankings will be warmly welcomed by incumbent loosehead Al Baxter.

Baxter has copped media flak about his poor technique and was forced to leave the field at Twickenham last year when he failed dismally to cope with the power of England's Andy Sheridan.

"I think if you don't have a specific coach in that specific role, you're not going to do top level training and development," said Baxter. "I think where we had parity a few years ago, everyone else has taken leaps ahead and because we haven't had a specific focus on the scrum, we haven't taken those steps forward, and thereby fallen behind the pack.

"I would love to see the new Australian coaching staff have a specific scrum coach."
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