Joe Schmidt makes honest admission over captaincy conundrum as Wallabies boss fires warning ahead of first Wales Test

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

Wallabies head coach Joe Schmidt in 2024.

Wallabies boss Joe Schmidt has revealed why he has delayed the captaincy decision until a later date.

Australia’s new head coach named his first squad since taking charge in March, selecting 12 uncapped players – plus ex-All Black Alex Hodgman – in a group of 38.

There are several surprises in the squad with Schmidt only including Super Rugby Pacific-based players. That means NRL-bound duo Carter Gordon and Mark Nawaqanitawase have missed out.

Captaincy issues

As a result, the captaincy is up in the air. The Wallabies had several different skippers under Eddie Jones, with Will Skelton the person chosen to lead the team into the Rugby World Cup.

However, his injury at the global tournament meant that the responsibility was rather passed around, leaving no clear leader for the new boss.

Schmidt will therefore decide over the next week as to who will take the responsibility for the opening Test with Wales, but admitted that it could change for the second match.

“I don’t know some of these men very well,” he told reporters.

“I’ve been impressed with some of them, but it’s superficial knowledge of them. I haven’t seen them under pressure. I haven’t seen them at training.

“I haven’t seen the way they lead, by the actions they deliver. Some of those things I just want to find out a bit about. I’ve leaned on Laurie [Fisher] a bit.”

“Geoff (Parling) knows a few of them having been involved with the Wallabies before and Mike Cron, he’s a good thermometer; he gets a pretty good feel for the temperature around other players’ perceptions of someone you might perceive to be a leader.

“It’s one thing labelling a leader, it’s whether people are prepared to follow them and whether they have a real confidence in them, and the reliability of what they’re going to be delivering.

“There’s a lot of unknowns there and I’m just trying to work my way through it, and we’ll do so over the next four days.

“We’ll name a captain for Wales 1 and that may be the captain for the July Tests, or it may not depending on what we deem is the best mix in selection for the next Test match.”

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Initial struggles

Schmidt also warned supporters not to expect an immediate improvement given the overhaul of the squad and their lack of training time together ahead of the first Test.

“It’s going to be difficult, you’ve got five new coaches. I’m meeting some of these guys actually on the grass for the first time in Brisbane,” he added.

“To have four days there and a couple of training sessions before we play Wales… Gats (Warren Gatland) has spent a lot of time in Wales, he knows some of those players really well and there’s a continuity and rhythm to what they do.

“We have to build a rhythm very, very quickly. I’ve never been one to make big promises, only that we will be working really hard.”

READ MORE: Son of famous Wallaby receives Australia call-up as Joe Schmidt selects first Test squad which includes ex-All Black