All Blacks great questions Australian revival despite post-World Cup overhaul

Colin Newboult
Joe Schmidt after being appointed the Wallabies' head coach.

Joe Schmidt after being appointed the Wallabies' head coach.

Former All Black Justin Marshall is expecting the Australians to struggle once again during the 2024 campaign.

The Wallabies arguably endured their worst season in history last year, going out of the Rugby World Cup at the pool stages for the first time.

Head coach Eddie Jones then left them 10 months into a five-year contract, adding to the embarrassment for the governing body.

Promising new head coach

However, Rugby Australia have made an astute appointment in the form of Joe Schmidt, who had successful stints with both Ireland and New Zealand.

There are hopes that Schmidt will lead a revival, but Marshall has question marks over the quality of player within Australia.

“The thing for me is, what type of rugby are Australia going to play after the type of rugby they played at the Rugby World Cup? It simply did not work,” he told The Platform.

“The exit and the round-robin showed that. Have they got a mindset of a nation that goes, ‘righto, we can’t get any worse, we need to now look as a nation what made us strong and the times when Australian rugby was strong, what style style did we play? What are our players suited to?’

“They should go out and not be like New Zealand, not be like France and Ireland, they should be Australia and compete in that way.

“I’m really interested to see if they can make some ground up and play the type of rugby we know Australians can, which is skilful, fast, with some physicality and unpredictability about it.

“I just wonder whether that emergence of real talented personnel has come through because I can’t really see any massive differences in the squads.”

New Super Rugby season

Marshall was speaking ahead of the new Super Rugby Pacific season, which kicks off on Friday when the Chiefs host the Crusaders.

That is a repeat of the 2023 final as the tournament once again saw two New Zealand outfits face off in the showpiece event.

The Kiwis have dominated their Aussie rivals over the past few years and the 50-year-old can’t envisage anything changing in 2024.

“When you think of the dominance New Zealand teams have had over them, especially physically, it’s a huge mountain for them to climb. That’s massive ground to make up,” he added.

“They are tough, they are Aussies, they can be resilient, but they have to have a real hard look at themselves and think about being much more ruthless, much more physical if they’re going to compete and get a team anywhere near the finals this year.”

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