New Australia coach Dave Rennie has picked South African-born Petrus du Plessis to turn the Wallaby scrum into the best in the world.
DU PLESSIS MET THE TEAM ON THE MORNING OF THE MATCH
According to the Rugby Australia website, two months after being appointed as the Wallabies’ scrum coach, Du Plessis finally met up with the squad this past weekend ahead of Bledisloe Cup III in Sydney after being released from mandatory Covid-19 quarantine.
Up until then, the Hermanus-born 39-year-old had been forced to ‘coach’ from behind his laptop.
‘Quarantined for two weeks and then I got released on the morning of the game,’ Du Plessis told reporters.
‘It was a big day at the office. My first day. But I’ve been obviously working a lot with the front rowers remotely.
‘I’m probably the first international coach to coach via Zoom but I’ve enjoyed that and the boys have taken that really well. When I got here it was a quick handshake and off we went, get ready for the game.’
Sadly for the Wallabies, the match didn’t pan out as they’d hoped.
In fact, it ended in a record 43-5 defeat and the loss of the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year.
While Du Plessis may not have played international rugby, anyone who knows anything about the English Premiership knows that the South African front-ranker, who is a qualified physiotherapist, was one of the outstanding props over the past decade.
Du Plessis played 158 matches for Saracens between 2010-2017, before moving on to London Irish (23 matches) and then Glasgow Warriors where he played under Rennie.
‘I played eight years at Saracens, two at London Irish and two at Glasgow Warriors with Dave Rennie. In that time, I’ve learned the dark arts the hard way. And the best possible way. I’ve worked with some unbelievable players and mentored and coached quite a few unbelievable players. Guys you’d see in the England and South Africa set-up.
‘My physio background plays a massive role. Physiotherapy is basically movement analysis. That helps me massively. I’m an expert in neck strengthening. That helps massively in the scrum. Core strengthening. If you put all that together, with the fact I’ve only recently played, so I know all the scrum rules inside out. I’ve stuck my head in those dark places. If you put all that together, that’s where the conversation led with Dave. He said to me in his own words, I relate well to all ages and props and front rows. He liked that and he liked the way I present and get the message across.
‘We had an honest discussion and I said to him, “Look, if the chance occurred, I would follow you to Australia.” That’s what happened.
‘The Wallabies scrum has always been there or thereabouts. They didn’t have a bad World Cup campaign. But I suppose, some people might say the scrum was just a restart of set piece,’ he said.
‘The thing we want to change is, we want to make the scrum a weapon, so we can decide whether we attack or not and we can manipulate the opposition. That’s the main thing, for me.
‘The talent we’ve got at the minute is good enough to possibly have one of the best scrums in the world, I believe. Looking at what talent we have, I’m pretty sure we’ve made good strides.
Du Plessis will get another chance to show the impact he’s had on the Wallaby forwards in Saturday’s now ‘dead’ Bledisloe Cup clash against the All Blacks in Brisbane, which also doubles as the second Tri-Nations match.
Kick-off is at 10:45 SA time (GMT +2)
Good luck, Petrus!
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Cullen Grace, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Will Jordan.
15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu