Dave Rennie distances himself from Australia head coach role

Glasgow Warriors head coach says he has not been approached about the possibility of severing his contract early to take over the Wallabies

Dave Rennie
Dave Rennie says he is committed to Glasgow Warriors until the end of his contract. Image: ©Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

DAVE RENNIE says he has not been contacted by Rugby Australia about the prospect of taking over as Wallabies head coach. The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this week that, according to ‘a source’, the New Zealander is “firming as Rugby Australia’s pick to replace Michael Cheika after the World Cup” with Matt Taylor “being touted as a potential deputy”.

“It’s just a bit of speculation I’d say,” replied Rennie, when asked about the connection. “As often happens when there’s a potential job up for grabs, they look at the options. I certainly haven’t spoken to anyone, it’s just a bit of speculation.

“My contract takes me through until the middle of 2020 and I’d imagine, from an international point of view, most of these jobs are going to be gobbled up straight after a World Cup. I knew that was probably going to be the case when I signed on for another season.

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Rennie was pressed on the fact that there is a long history of coaches denying that they have been approached about a new job, only to jump at the opportunity as soon as an overture is made.

“You never say never do you, but what I’ve said is I’m assuming that like a lot of teams they’ll probably make changes in coaches immediately after the World Cup – that’s November 2019 – and I’m committed here [at Glasgow Warriors] until July 2020. So, that’s what I’m saying: that it’s unlikely.”

It seems unlikely that an eight month lag between the end of the World Cup and the conclusion of Rennie’s contract would preclude him from the job at that stage in the international cycle.

Scott Johnson, the former director of performance rugby for the SRU, who oversaw Rennie’s recruitment by Glasgow ahead of the 2017-18, was recently appointed as director of rugby for Rugby Australia.

Rennie was speaking as he named his team for tomorrow [Saturday] night’s Guinness PRO14 clash against the Toyota Cheetahs. Ali Price, Sam Johnson and Jonny Gray have been rested for the match after their exploits for Scotland during the Six Nations, while a number of other leading players including Stuart Hogg [shoulder], George Horne [shoulder], Nick Grigg [ankle], Ryan Wilson [knee], Huw Jones [knee] and George Turner [head] have been listed as injured.

It is not clear what Tommy Seymour’s current status is but Rennie said the winger is expected be back in time to face Saracens in the Champions Cup next Saturday, as is Hogg and Horne.

Grigg’s injury is the only new one from last weekend. “It doesn’t look that flash, to be honest,” said Rennie. “He’s certainly going to be out for the next few weeks we think. We’ll have a bit more clarity by Tuesday, but he’s unlikely for next week.I think it’s syndesmosis (damaged ligaments), so it’s disappointing. He’s defended really well at international level and I’ve been really excited for him, so it’s a frustrating injury.”

Turning his attention to the task at hand, Rennie said he is expecting a lively challenge from the Cheetahs tomorrow night. “They’ve scored 60-odd tries this year, they’re really lethal from turnover and they’ve got to make a real play from now to have a chance of making the play-offs, so we’d expect them to come and play like they do,” he said. “They’ve got absolute wheels out wide and so our ability to look after the ball and shut them down quickly is going to be really important, but we’ll be expecting them to come and play.”

Glasgow Warriors (v Toyota Cheetahs at Scotstoun, Saturday 7.45pm, live on Premier Sports): Ruaridh Jackson; Niko Matawalu, Kyle Steyn, Stafford McDowall, Rory Hughes; Pete Horne, Nick Frisby; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown,  Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins©, Matt Fagerson. Subs: Grant Stewart, Jamie Bhatti, Siua Halanukonuka, Bruce Flockhart, Chris Fusaro, Adam Hastings, Paddy Kelly, Robbie Nairn.

Toyota Cheetahs: Malcolm Jaer; William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Rabz Maxwane; Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer; Charles Marais, Marnus van der Merwe, Aranos Coetzee, Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp, Daniel Maartens, Abongile Nonkontwana, Henco Venter. Subs: Joseph Dweba, Reinach Venter, Luan de Bruin, Justin Basson, JP du Preez, Gerhard Olivier, Shaun Venter, Louis Fouche.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

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About David Barnes 4012 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.