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18th Jan 2024

Joe Schmidt reportedly set to succeed Eddie Jones as Australia coach

Patrick McCarry

The Wallabies need a hard re-set.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that former Ireland boss, Joe Schmidt is Rugby Australia’s number one target to be head coach of the Wallabies.

Schmidt, who led Ireland to three Six Nations titles, including a 2018 Grand Slam, had been part of the All Blacks coaching and selection set-up, in 2022 and 2023, but Scott Robertson has brought in his own team since taking over the top ABs job.

The deal is reportedly all but done, with paperwork needing to be finalised and signatures secured. Dan McKellar and former Wallabies [and Leinster] head coach Michael Cheika were said to have been on the shortlist. David Nucifora, a long-time Performance Director with the IRFU, is said to have been a key figure in the drive to recruit Schmidt to the Wallabies role.

Schmidt, if the deal is rubber-stamped, would be taking over from Eddie Jones after his disastrous spell in charge of Australia. He would third Kiwi to coach the Wallabies, after Robbie Deans and Dave Rennie. The Aussies first Test match of the year is against Wales, in Sydney, on July 6.

Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, pictured in 2018. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

Why Joe Schmidt coaching Australia is a good thing

Joe Schmidt may have been keen for a coaching break, and time back in New Zealand with his family, after his eight years in Ireland, but the pull of the game was always going to be strong.

The 58-year-old first came into the All Blacks set-up, after a spell with Auckland Blues, as a selector but slowly, and surely, started to assert his voice and have more of a say in rugby matters. With Robertson now calling the shots with the ABs, Schmidt would be revitalised in taking on a new challenge.

Him taking over a floundering Wallabies side would be good for them, and good for the wider game. Rugby needs a strong Australian side, not the makeshift and low confidence rabble we have seen for much of the past decade [ever since the 2015 World Cup].

Players are leaving for Europe, Japan or, domestically, rugby league. There is a talent train in Australia and the only way to halt the slide is to get the national team, and Super Rugby sides, competitive again.

Longer term, if Schmidt can get some sense and shape into the Wallabies, over the next 18 months, the British & Irish Lions Tour, Down Under, next summer all of a sudden becomes a more dangerous, and viewable, prospect. Following on from that, you have the 2027 World Cup taking place in Australia. Again, a stronger Wallabies side will generate more buzz, across Oz, and lead to a better tournament.

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