Building consistency a priority for Wallabies coach Schmidt

golf01 May 2024 08:20| © Reuters
article image
Joe Schmidt © Getty Images

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt believes building consistency and the ability to win close matches will be two of his biggest challenges as he looks to put together a team that can take on the British and Irish Lions next year.

The New Zealander took on a rebuilding project when he replaced Eddie Jones this year as coach of a Wallabies team that won just two of nine tests last season and crashed out of the World Cup in the pool stage for the first time.

His first games in charge will be two tests against Wales and one against Georgia in July but any honeymoon period will be short as Australia renew their 22-year-old quest to win back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks later in the year.

Schmidt said he had been encouraged by the performances of Australian sides in Super Rugby Pacific this season but pointed out that they had displayed the same inconsistency that has blighted the Wallabies in recent years.

"Being competitive one week hasn't necessarily materialised into being competitive the next week," he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

"I think driving that consistency of performance is massively important ... you don't have to be too far off to suddenly not be on the right side of the ledger at the end of the game."

The former Ireland coach also identified that Australia had developed the unwelcome habit of losing tight matches in recent seasons.

"Just being able to nail those big moments at the finish of those games has been a bit of a challenge for the Wallabies in recent years," he added.

"I've had some experiences with teams haven't quite nailed those big moments and trying to build your mindset where you can stay process-driven through those periods with consistency."

Getting selection right was the first step towards creating consistent performance, Schmidt said, but he admitted that he probably would not know his best team until the end of the last of the 13 tests Australia will play this year.

Schmidt said priority in his selections would be given to Australia-based players as his experience of coaching in Ireland and with the All Blacks had taught him that the best combinations were often forged in provincial teams.

"I think if everyone's available here, then you wouldn't have to go too far anywhere else," he said.

"We want to be as competitive as we can be when the Lions arrive, that's my massive target, that's the pinnacle event."