Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has ruled out a World Cup coaching partnership with Eddie Jones, denied he’s signed a deal in Japan and delivered a message to dumped stars as he started 2023 with a bang.
Rennie linked up with a 44-player training squad on the Gold Coast amid rumblings about the coaching set-up of the national team and disquiet over his own future.
But as Jones, who has been linked to the Wallabies job after being axed as coach of England, declared “I’m not an assistant coach”, Rennie said he wasn’t looking to add him to his team anyway.
Speaking for the first time since Jones was sacked, Rennie said he hadn’t spoken to Rugby Australia officials about any approach to Jones
“It won’t happen before (the World Cup),” Rennie said.
“There’s a fair bit of speculation about a lot of things, but my focus is on this group and the World Cup.
“We’ve had no discussions around that. There’s no plan to make alterations to the coaching group at this stage.
“My assumption is we’re going to push on. What happens beyond 2023 is a different matter.”
Rennie has also been linked to a move to Japanese club Kobe but said no deal had been done and he wouldn’t be distracted from taking the Wallabies to the World Cup in France in September.
“All I’ll say is I haven’t signed with Kobe,” said Rennie, who is only contracted until the World Cup.
“My focus is totally here. We’ve spent a big chunk of December when we got back doing reviews and World Cup planning. What happens beyond 2023 will probably be a bit clearer in the next few months.”
After being asked about his links with the Wallabies, Jones told The Guardian: “I‘m not an assistant coach, mate. I’m not interested in that sort of job.”
Rennie ignored both James O’Connor and former rugby league star Suliasi Vunivalu from the 44 players assembling on the Gold Coast.
While O’Conner has been injury prone of late, big-money RA signing Vunivalu played only the final minutes of his sole Test before falling out of favour.
Rennie said their Wallabies futures had not been fully written yet, but the message to both was clear.
“I had a good chat to Rabs (O’Connor) last week prior to us announcing the team,” Rennie said.
“He’s come back from an (ankle) injury. He’s back training fully now and he’s actually in good nick.
“He’s running a little bit quicker than we’ve seen over the last couple of years and looks sharper. His focus is playing good Super Rugby and putting a bit of pressure on us to select him for the camp in April.
“Suli has got really clear messages – we need to see him run fast.
“We need to see a repeat of speed efforts; we know his ability aerially is excellent. He needs to put in good performances at Super level.”