Joe Schmidt talks ‘fickle’ nature of talent, unlocking Australia’s potential


It’s how you bake the cake, according to Joe Schmidt, who has offered a different spin on how he plans to revive the Wallabies’ flagging fortunes.

Despite many pundits believing Australia no longer boasts the talent pool to compete with the rugby-mad power nations like world champions South Africa and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, Schmidt is adamant he has all the ingredients to make the Wallabies great again.

It’s just that the Kiwi deems talent the least important ingredient.

“Talent to me is an untapped potential. It sits in a potential sort of bracket,” Schmidt said as tickets to next year’s three-Test series against the touring British and Irish Lions went on sale this week.

spacer-new Joe Schmidt talks 'fickle' nature of talent, unlocking Australia's potential

“Talent can be quite fickle as well.

“What we need to be able to demonstrate is that we can be really consistent.

“A lot of the things that you do in rugby don’t take a whole lot of talent.

“They take a whole lot of effort, they take a little bit of intelligence and IP in the game, and then the talent tends to be the icing on the cake.

“And we’ve just got to make sure that we bake the cake in the best possible manner.”

While he wants to see more before he starts throwing out individual names who he expects to form the basis of his first Test team to face Wales in Sydney on July 6, Schmidt hopes the “promising” start from Australia’s five Super Rugby Pacific sides this year proves they are closing the gap on their New Zealand rivals.

That has always been the key to the Wallabies succeeding at international level and ultimately winning back the Bledisloe Cup, which the All Blacks have held since 2003, and competing for world supremacy.

The Wallabies also host the British and Irish Lions next year, before staging the 2027 World Cup on home soil for the first time since 2003.

Schmidt, who has only committed to coach the Wallabies for two years, believes the Lions series against the best of the best from England, Wales, Scotland and his old Ireland team, will provide a good barometer of how Australia is tracking for the next global showpiece.

The Lions only travel to Australia once every 12 years and legendary two-time World Cup winner John Eales hopes the lure of a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity unless you’re George Smith” inspires something special from the Wallabies.

“With a full year under Joe and getting used to the way Joe wants to play the game, there is no doubt we will be competitive,” said Eales, who captained the Wallabies to their historic 2001 series win over the Lions.

“Without doubt, it’s enough time.

“I don’t think we have a talent issue in Australian rugby. We’re seeing that in Super Rugby (Pacific) and there is certainly not an enthusiasm issue.”

The Wallabies, coached by another Kiwi in Robbie Deans, lost the most recent Lions series in Australia 2-1 in 2013.



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