International – New Wallabies Coach Joe Schmidt Hints At Favouring Local-Based Policy

 

New Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt has indicated his intentions to select from Australia as he begins life in the new role.

March 1 was Schmidt's official start date, however, the former Irish boss has been travelling across the trans-Tasman to get himself up to speed with the task.

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He undertook a nearly six-hour round trip to Auckland to catch up with the five Super Rugby captains whilst venturing to Roma for the Reds-Waratahs trial.

It reflects Schmidt's passion and excitement for the challenge ahead as he caught up with reporters for an early discussion about the state of the side.

His preference towards homegrown talent was clear as the Kiwi-born Schmidt looks to reward Super Rugby performances.

The previous coach Eddie Jones selected four overseas players for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with Quade Cooper called into camp under Dave Rennie.

However, Schmidt, who has traditionally coached at teams with a local-only selection policy, was leaning towards keeping his squad largely based in Australia

“As much as possible, I think it’s really important to keep the best players in the country if we can, we want to be competitive in Super Rugby," he said.

“My experience in Ireland was we didn’t have a policy of whether we picked homegrown players or players that were away but the only guy I picked was Jonny Sexton and I made sure he’s signed for Leinster before he actually played for Ireland.

“You want to be able to have a player management plan to track players and see them firsthand and connect.

“Will Skelton has been incredibly impressive playing in La Rochelle and I know the coach Ronan O’Gara well so it’s not like I don’t trust them to give me good feedback. There are guys like Marika Koroibete and Samu Kerevi who are really impressive.

“My gut feeling at the moment if it’s 50/50, even maybe 60/40, is to go with the home-based players as much as possible.”

He will look to establish his coaching staff by the end of April before the Test calendar begins against Wales in July, employing a similar policy.

“We’ll be advertising openly but I think favouring the local guys," Schmidt admits.

“I think it’d be great to get the best of the guys who were here involved and at the same time, we want to keep the best of the guys here making a success of Super Rugby because then it’s a breeding ground.

“The windows we get can be pretty tight, particularly the preparatory weeks so the more really good people we have in the Super stuff, the better prepared the players will be.”

With limited time, Schmidt is open to a collaborative effort with the Super Rugby clubs for 2024 only, which has been seen in the past with Dan McKellar serving as forwards coach under Dave Rennie.

“I know what it’s like and it’s very tough. I think what you do is dilute the energy you need to be as good as you can be," he said.

“There might be someone involved with a Super team at the moment and welcome them into the Wallabies environment but then we’re more likely to keep them in the Wallabies environment and progress from there, particularly with the Lions next year where we want to be as prepared as we can be and fresh to be nailed on for that.”