Scott Johnson will be the kingmaker in appointing the next Wallabies coach, with Kiwi Dave Rennie the early favourite following Michael Cheika’s resignation in Japan.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle issued a statement on Sunday night after Cheika confirmed he would not seek reappointment following the Rugby World Cup capitulation to England.
Cheika made the explosive claim that he had “no relationship” with the under pressure Castle and “not much” with RA chairman Cameron Clyne.
Nonetheless Castle paid tribute to Cheika, who has coached the Wallabies since 2014.
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“Michael is a passionate and experienced coach who worked tirelessly to get the best out his players,” Castle said.
“He cares deeply about the Wallabies and the game of rugby, and always set out with the aim of making Wallabies fans proud of the team’s performances.
“Michael came into the role at a turbulent time, and experienced immediate success by taking the Wallabies to a World Cup final after only one year in the job.
“He was later given the ultimate recognition for that achievement by being named World Rugby coach of the year.
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“Now that the Wallabies have exited the tournament, Rugby Australia’s director of rugby, Scott Johnson will lead a thorough review of the Rugby World Cup campaign and the 2019 season.
“This is an important process which is undertaken at the completion of each tournament or series and this review will examine all aspects of the Wallabies program, from coaching to physical preparation, player fitness, and skill development.”
Rennie is currently coaching Glasgow Warriors and previously led the Chiefs to two Super Rugby titles.
He has a working relationship with Johnson from his time in Scotland.
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The new coach will inherit the Wallabies at a low ebb, falling behind Japan to seventh in the world rankings following the 40-16 quarterfinal drubbing against England.
Cheika’s departure will likely trigger a wider overhaul.
“As expected at the end of a Rugby World Cup year, there are a handful of senior players leaving the Wallabies program and coaching staff coming off contract ahead of next year,” Castle said.
“There has already been much work completed in preparing for the future in this regard, and that work will also continue until the end of the year.”