Kiss of approval: How Joe Schmidt is going to ‘connect us all’ and bring Australian rugby back from the brink
Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt will unify Australian rugby and successfully “cut through the fluff” as he transforms the ailing national team.
Schmidt received that glowing endorsement from Queensland Reds coach Les Kiss, who was the New Zealander’s assistant with the Irish national team in 2014 and 2015 as the Irish won the Six Nations.
Fans have hailed the decision to anoint Schmidt on a two-year deal to replace Eddie Jones. The previous coach led Australia to a worst-ever World Cup result. Many of Jones’ ex-players have begun to open up about the tumultuous past 12 months while Kiss believes it’s time for some straight shooting.
“It’s an appointment that we’ve been waiting for. And it’s a strong appointment,” Kiss told reporters on Monday.
“Joe brings a lot of expertise and a lot of success and knows how to get the right things out of players, pulling them in from different environments and gelling them together to go together somewhere together.
“I think we’ll find some really good quality through the whole program. He’ll connect us all.”
When unveiled last week Schmidt said he was keen to get around the Super clubs, with a visit to his old colleague Kiss high on the priority list.
“If I was to summarise it I think he’ll cut through the fluff – get to the main things that matter,” Kiss said. “He’ll get to the main things that matter. Concentrate on the areas that will make the most difference and leverage the qualities of the group that he’ll have with him.
“Those are the key things – he’ll cut to the chase and simplify things and get this right.
“He’ll be fairly surgical in terms about how he does that. You get the right things right in any coaching program, you get alignment, you get buy in, you need a bit of luck along the way as well and a bit of success, you can go places.
“The time I’ve spent at the Reds, and doing analysis on other teams, there’s qualities here to work with. Joe will get the right things right, that’s for sure.
There has been some questions over Schmidt only signing for two years, until the end of the British and Lions tour.
Kiss doesn’t see that as an issue.
“I don’t think it means it’s finite,” Kiss said.
“I’m not privy to those conversations, but I don’t see it as a negative. I see a lot of these things we should be thinking more positively about what it’s going to be giving us that’s how we’re approaching it.
“He’s a teacher at heart. That’s where he comes from. He knows the game inside out. He’ll come in and make a difference.”
Tate McDermott, who was named to team up with Liam Wright as co-captains of the Reds again this year, said he didn’t want to dwell on the World Cup fiasco, but gave a little glimpse behind the curtain.
“Everything that happened in the World Cup, we spent so much time on the leadership side of things,” said McDermott, who captained the Wallabies during Jones’ time in charge.
“And we had an awesome group there – guys like Will Skelton, Dave Poreki, all those kind of guys, and just seeing how they approached different situations… We had a lot going on.
“Our mantra was just to solve problems. And you know, that’s something I’ll bring back here. It’s been nice to be in this environment. It’s obviously incredibly different to the environment we over had in France. But I’ve really enjoyed working with different leaders, different coaches and bringing the lessons back.”