Australia face tough rebuilding process

New Australia coach David Rennie faces a huge challenge reinvigorating a team that failed to compete in the 2019 World Cup. The Wallabies were bounced out of the competition in the quarter-final stage by England, suffering a 40-16 hammering at the hands of their rivals.

Michael Cheika stepped down at the end of the tournament as head coach, with Dave Rennie moving into the position as his replacement. He will be working with a team in transition, with several players potentially being shifted out of the squad.

The Wallabies were forced to watch Southern Hemisphere rivals South Africa win the crown, and the journey to attempt to dislodge them in 2023 will be a long one for Rennie and his side. Australia are currently backed at 14/1 in the rugby union betting odds to claim the Webb Ellis Trophy in France in four years, highlighting the task at hand for the new man in the role.

There have already been moves made with flanker David Pocock announcing his retirement, leaving a void at the position alongside Michael Hooper. Sekope Kepu made his intentions clear before the World Cup that he was quitting after a distinguished career in the front row. Adam Ashley-Cooper’s days are numbered at international level as even the old reliable cannot be expected to suit up at the age of 39 to play in the next tournament after being brought back by Cheika.

There are natural replacements ready to take over. Jack Dempsey will slide into the position alongside his skipper, with Isi Naisarani filling the number eight role. Allan Alaalatoa and Taniela Tupou are in place in the front row, while the excellence of Marika Koroibete will hold down the wing for many years to come along with Reece Hodge. Jordan Petaia and Jake Mattocks are on the rise and their development could be an exciting prospect for a team that lacked decisive threat in Japan.  

Will Genia has enjoyed an outstanding career after succeeding George Gregan, but he had a poor outing against England and Nic White should take over starting duties. However, a long-term replacement for the two players should be a priority. Joe Powell and Jake Gordon are among the names that will be pushing for selection, while Nick Phipps will also be eyeing a return to the fold. Both Powell and Gordon are in their twenties and that might appeal to Rennie ahead of the 30-year-old Phipps, despite his experience.

A battle that Rennie will have to endure with his selection is the Giteau Rule. Players that are plying their trade outside of Australia must have 60 caps to earn selection to the Wallabies’ squad. Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Semu Kerevi and Christian Lealiifano will now not be eligible to play for Rennie’s team unless they return from their overseas’ outfits and back into Super Rugby. Reportedly a review is underway to determine whether the rule will stand and it could be a blessing for the new head coach for Australia’s hierarchy to make the drastic change.

It’s not going to be an easy process to overhaul the squad, especially playing regular matches against New Zealand and the Springboks. Australia have been a resilient side and have always churned out quality players. Their building process for the next World Cup under a new head coach will be one of the most intriguing storylines to watch as teams regroup for the next tournament.