Rugby News: ‘Doesn’t seem right’ – Mack urges RA to avoid Kiwi coach, Clive tells Poms to ditch ‘ridiculous’ ban
Watching from overseas in Ireland as Australia goes about the process of finding a new head coach for the Wallabies, Mack Hansen has offered one piece of advice to his place of birth: don’t name a New Zealander.
Following the second Eddie Jones’ stint that ended in a spectacular bonfire of a World Cup campaign, one that saw Jones and former Chairman Hamish McLennan depart, Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh, chairman Daniel Herbert and the new incoming director of high performance Peter Horne have commenced receiving expressions of interest for the men’s head coach role, set to completed in January.
Many names have been linked to the role, including Australian coaches Stephen Larkham, Dan McKellar and Andy Friend, while a strong international contingent spearheaded by Joe Schmidt and Ian Foster are also reportedly in the mix.
Schmidt has emerged as the apparent front runner for the job following Horne’s appointment, and the added news that David Nucifora will return in a consultancy capacity.
However, the Australian-born Hansen, who has amassed 21 caps for Ireland, revealed on Jim Hamilton’s ‘The Big Jim Show’ that he thinks Australia should stay clear of Kiwis, following the tenures of Robbie Deans and Dave Rennie.
“I would like to see an Aussie back in charge,” he said.
“For some reason, I don’t know what it is – I could be putting my foot in my mouth here – but whenever a New Zealand coach has been in charge, it just hasn’t seemed to click. Something about it just doesn’t seem right.
“At the end of the day, Joe Schmidt did get results and whatnot. As I said, I don’t know about that, a New Zealander.”
Hansen’s preference of an Australian coach like Dan McKellar would serve as a better option – however he admitted his own issues with McKellar during their time in the capital.
“[Dan McKellar] was a coach of mine and I’ve seen what it’s like to be under him,” said the Ireland star.
“I wasn’t even playing much when Dan was in charge – thanks for that, Dan, by the way! I still loved and respected Dan a lot throughout the whole thing. There were times where I was frustrated with him… that I wasn’t playing.
“At the end of the day, he was a very good fella so it was easy to let it… not slide, but just get on with it and you know this is your job and things aren’t always going to go how you planned. I think he would have been a really good add to the team but I think he came out and said he’s not going to do that.”
Hansen did, however, have a lot more praise for fellow Brumbies’ coaches Larkham and Friend, having been coached by the latter at Connacht.
“Friendy would be good. It would be interesting…I found he’s the kind of figure that you want at the top; someone that you can respect and is a lot about family. I think it needs to be a core value. You need to be able to put away the coach’s hat every now and then and just be a good fella. I think Friendy is that.
“There’s people like Bernie (Stephen Larkham), he didn’t really get his chance to go on and really have a crack at the system…He’s proven everywhere he’s gone that he’s done fairly well.”
“There’s a couple of good candidates out there.”
Manu Tuilagi set to miss start of Six Nations
England centre Manu Tuilagi is set for a stint on the sidelines following a groin injury sustained during Sale’s match against Saracens, with him likely to miss the opening match of the Six Nations.
Tuliagi had just returned from a long sideline stint, sustaining a hand injury during the Rugby World Cup, and had made it through Sale’s previous clash with Stade Francais before having to come off early in the second half against Saracens.
It is a significant setback for the talented centre, and the result will serve as a further headache for Head Coach Steve Borthwick as he prepares for England’s first match of 2024 against Italy.
“Manu has pulled his groin and doesn’t need an operation and we think he will be back during the Six Nations but not for the first week of it,” Sale’s director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, said to reporters.
“The Six Nations is not too far away and he will be back. I spoke to him and he said he needs to play and then it will be up to England. He was in the frame and he has already stated his intent to keep playing international rugby.
“Six weeks is the recommended time for the injury and Manu is saying four.
“There was no indications on the field and he just felt it early in the second half and is that aware of his body that he called over the physio and said something has gone here. He is a little bit wiser.
“I am happy that if anyone can stay in that happy frame of mind it is Manu and he is already future-focused about getting back on the field.”
Borthwick will also be without fellow Sale player and England loosehead Bevan Rodd, who has had surgery on an injured toe and will miss the Six Nations entirely.
“Bevan has been operated on and he won’t be back until post Six Nations,” Sanderson added.
Sir Clive Woodward outlines ten point plan to fix RFU
World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward has called for a period of reflection in regards to England rugby, and has presented a ten point plan to take the game forward.
While the men in white still managed a bronze placed finish at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the year was far from a positive one with an underperforming Six Nations campaign, a first ever loss to Fiji, and the lingering effects of Borthwick’s predecessor Eddie Jones on the national system.
Among Woodward’s ten point plan, revealed in his Daily Mail column, includes ditching their player foreign policy to expand who can be picked for the national side, provide more resources to the women’s game, reform the board based on rugby experience, and to bring back promotion and relegation in the premiership.
“Sometimes I look at English rugby’s corridors of power and think certain things would not be happening if I was still involved,” he wrote
“Henry Arundell’s contract with Racing 92 — making him unavailable for Tests — made me feel like that. The ridiculous ban on overseas players representing England would not exist if I was head coach.
“You simply have to be able to pick the best players, and Steve Borthwick can’t do that.
The mindset that the ruling protects Premiership clubs is badly flawed. Three clubs have fallen into administration and England are nowhere near being the No 1 side in the world.
“Premiership Rugby and the RFU need to understand that competition is the basis for high performance, not regulation.
“Arundell is the brightest young England player and for him to not be playing goes against the fabric of international rugby. It is arrogant to think England is the best place for every player to thrive.
“In the past we have seen Jonny Wilkinson move to Toulon and even he improved. Kyle Sinckler and Lewis Ludlam look like the next to go to the Top 14.
“As an England player you want to know that not only are you the best player, but that you are lining up alongside the very best.
“English rugby needs to focus on making the Premiership the place to be, not just limiting damage. I would abandon the foreign ruling and make the Premiership a destination players from France, especially, want to come to.”
Woodward also claimed the game needs to get a handle on the treatment of retired players who have suffered as a result of playing professionally, and also implement new ways to protect players and referees from online abuse, which only soared during the World Cup.
“The former players who are experiencing problems such as early onset dementia is an issue rugby can’t hide away from,” Woodward wrote.
“I’d like to see the RFU do far more to support guys like Steve Thompson. They will say they are limited because Thompson is taking them to court. That may be the case, but for me the players deserve better than what they are getting, which is next to nothing.
“We’ve also seen the impact of social media abuse through the retirement of referees Wayne Barnes and Tom Foley.
“Rugby fans consider themselves ‘a cut above’ those in football. This is arrogant and elitist. Some of the behaviour I have seen from rugby fans is no better than football hooliganism. Players and officials being targeted on social media is unacceptable. Fans must take responsibility, but who will lead on this at Twickenham?”