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OPINION: As a coach Dave Rennie has shown a knack for rugby alchemy, turning base players into gold, yet his main problem as Wallabies coach may lie off the field.
When staff on the Rugby Australia board blabbed they were planning to appoint Dave Rennie to replace Cheika, it prompted a preemptive debate as to whether Rennie was the man for the job.
No, growled the likes of leading rugby writer Greg Growden, for the Sydney Morning Herald.
It should be Eddie Jones, Growden wrote, with a forward pack of supporters and a backline more outside him.
Growden and others argue Jones would appease long-suffering Wallabies supporters, particularly those who believed the head coach must be Australian.
“Who is the best Australian coach out there? There’s no argument. Jones by a country mile,” he wrote.
Former test fullback Greg Martin has said he doesn’t “want another Kiwi coaching the national team”.
News of Rennie’s impending appointment was “terrible”, Martin said.
Now Rennie has been confirmed the man for the job, can he can expect the kind of ambivalence former Crusaders coach Robbie ‘Dingo’ Deans had to endure as an outsider?
Of the last three Wallabies coaches, Deans was the arguably the most successful. He was also arguably the most criticised.
Ewen McKenzie won 50 per cent of his tests. Michael Cheika ran at 52 per cent. Deans 59 per cent.
Deans was targeted with sustained criticism after the 2011 World Cup. Wallaby Greg Martin suggested he was a trojan horse sent from New Zealand to wreck Australian rugby, with plenty of other more logical theories given credence.
So Rennie will arrive with that history to learn from. He will arrive with the clamour for Jones and the words
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