EXCLUSIVE: Schmidt to appoint David Warner as Wallabies leadership consultant


With the blessing of Rugby Australia, Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt will appoint controversial Australian cricketer David Warner as a leadership consultant, with an eye towards a home World Cup in four years’ time.

Warner, who retired from Test cricket in January and is currently featuring for the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, will take up the part-time role after the T20 World Cup in June this year, which is expected to be his international swansong.

Warner will join the team in the lead-up to their two-Test series against Wales in July, with his contract to run through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup, to be held in Australia.

Franchise cricket will remain his top priority for the foreseeable future, with Rugby Australia prepared to be flexible regarding the time spent face-to-face with the squad.

The surprise move is, according to RA, due to his extensive experience at the highest level of cricket, particularly at World Cups, having been a key member of Australia’s 2015 and 2023 ODI World Cup successes as well as being player of the series in their 2021 T20 World Cup victory.

While a long-term vice-captain of the Test and ODI teams, Warner’s international captaincy experience is limited to three ODIs and nine T20Is – winning 11 of those 12 matches – before being permanently banned from all leadership positions for his key role in the infamous ‘Sandpapergate’ scandal in 2018.

However, when asked about the appointment on Sunday, Schmidt pointed to Warner’s experience captaining Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, as well as other franchises in T20 leagues around the world, as more than sufficient to fill the position at Rugby Australia, while defending his actions during Sandpapergate as ‘a blip’.

“He made a mistake, it was six years ago, and he’s a different person to who he was then,” Schmidt said.

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“We understand that for some people, he’ll always be tarred with that brush, but Dave has a lot to offer from a leadership perspective for our group, and we’re excited to start working with him later this year.

“We’re building towards the 2027 World Cup on home soil, and dealing with the pressure and the expectation of hosting an event like that, Dave’s obviously already dealt with that from a cricket perspective, so that will be invaluable for us as well.”

Schmidt added that Australia’s great cricket record against New Zealand in all formats during the 37-year old’s career was also a factor in the appointment.

“Beating us Kiwis is something I’ve noticed a real lack of experience with around rugby in Australia since I started!” he joked.

David Warner will begin a new role as Wallabies’ leadership consultant in July. (Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“Dave has spent half his life beating New Zealand and dealing with the hostile crowds you get over there in big games, and that experience will be handy for us later this year.”

Schmidt quickly denied any suggestion that Warner could have input in naming the Wallabies’ captain for the Wales series, with an official decision yet to be made after Will Skelton and Dave Porecki led the team during their disastrous run at the 2023 World Cup.

While unlikely bedfellows, cricket and rugby union have had some overlap in recent years, with former Wallaby Pat Howard appointed by Cricket Australia as head of high performance in 2011, before being sacked in late 2018 as part of a series of changes made by the organisation post-Sandpapergate.

Warner was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Roar, but wife Candice described the appointment as ‘a surprise, but a really nice one’.

“David has been so frustrated with Cricket Australia over the leadership ban for a while, so it’s been really heartening to have such interest from Rugby Australia in him as a person,” she said.

“I remember when he got the call from Joe [Schmidt], we were convinced at first it was an April Fool’s Day joke!

“Then we discovered that it was.”

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