Rugby-'Fragmented' Wallabies a new challenge for Schmidt

  • Rugby
  • Friday, 10 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - New Zealand v Ireland - Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - October 19, 2019 Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt reacts during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Joe Schmidt has inherited a "fragmented" playing group from predecessor Eddie Jones and says building cohesion in the Wallabies will be a new challenge for him.

Jones, who resigned after the Wallabies suffered their first-ever group stage exit at the World Cup in France, axed several veteran players, including captain Michael Hooper, while promoting rookies who struggled at test level.

Former Ireland boss Schmidt, who helped New Zealand reach the World Cup final as a selector and assistant coach to Ian Foster, said the Wallabies were a different project to the more established squads in his previous roles.

"It's probably a little bit fragmented at the moment, just on the back of last year," the New Zealander told reporters in Perth.

"There were a number of changes during the year and it just means that there's probably not as much continuity as what I'd be used to -- or that cohesion that comes with players who have played a number of years together, particularly in a national team.

"I've come in recent times from two very settled national teams -- so that will be a new challenge for me."

Once a fixture in the top two of world rankings, Australia are languishing at ninth before they face 10th-ranked Wales in a two-test series in July.

With most Wallabies occupied with their Super Rugby Pacific clubs until June, Schmidt will have little time to decide on his best squad and put players through their paces.

Wallabies fans hoping for a rapid rebound in the team's fortunes might be disappointed.

"Nothing's ever a short-term fix. Everything takes time, particularly cohesion when you're trying to build that relationship between players where they can almost act instinctively off each other," Schmidt said.

"All those things do take a bit of time but it's not a luxury we do have, so we'll be as ready as we can be when we kick off against Wales."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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