New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says Michael Hooper’s decision to stand down as NSW Waratahs captain won’t have an influence on whether he remains skipper of the national team.
On a brief break in Australia from his duties as coach of Scottish team Glasgow Warriors, Rennie met Hooper on Wednesday, shortly after the flanker announced he was stepping down from his leadership role at the Waratahs.
“He seemed in a really good space. He’s had a good break. He’s come back in really good nick,” Rennie said on Thursday.
“The message we’ll be giving everyone is you’ve got to earn the right to play. We’ll be picking guys based on Super Rugby form.”
Asked if that extended to Hooper and the captaincy Rennie replied: “Absolutely.”
Rennie also revealed he and Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson had discussed the Giteau rule, under which overseas-based Wallabies would be considered for selection if they had earned 60 Test caps.
The Springboks used several overseas-based players for their ultimately triumphant World Cup campaign in Japan, but Rennie ruled out Australia adopting a similar approach.
“Anyone who is overseas is going to have to commit to Australia long term as opposed to plucking them out because they’ve played X amount of Tests,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s great for Australian rugby if we brought that many guys back from overseas.
“What it will do is encourage more players to go over and chase money knowing they can still be a Wallaby, so that’s a concerning trend for me.
We’ve got to show them a bit of love, help with their development and we’ve got to create a culture where people don’t want to leave.’’
Rennie said he intends to implement a high-tempo game plan in which fitness is key.
“We can put a lot of time and emphasis on skill sets, but if our conditioning falls away in a crucial moment defensively, or in attack you finish second,” he said.
Rennie also insisted inexperience would not be a barrier for the crop of emerging players who were part of the Junior Wallabies side that reached the world under-20s final last year.
The New Zealander’s first Tests in charge will be two matches at home against Ireland in July.
“There will be a big chunk of Leinster playing for them and they’re just murdering everyone in Europe,” he warned.
“They’ll be a really good side and that will be a good gauge for us as to where we’re at.”
Rennie’s revelations … what the Wallabies coach wants
- Explosive athletes required – Rennie is targeting powerful, explosive and well-conditioned athletes to play the high-tempo game he wants
- No picking on reputation – Rennie says form, not reputation, is what will determine the make-up of his Wallabies team, and that extends to captain Michael Hooper
- Age is no barrier – Aware of the emerging crop of Junior Wallabies set to graduate to Super Rugby after Australia’s march to the 2019 World Under 20s final, Rennie says if players are good enough, they will be old enough to make the Test team
- No copying new world champions South Africa’s selection policy –The Springboks recalled several overseas-based players in 2019, but Rennie has emphasised his preference for picking from Australian Super sides
- Beware of Ireland – Australia’s first two Tests under Rennie in July will be at home against Ireland. Rennie expects a big challenge, as leading provincial side Leinster is monstering its opposition.