New Wallabies coach John Connolly . . . impressed with Coffs Harbour training camp.     Photo: CHRIS RIX
New Wallabies coach John Connolly . . . impressed with Coffs Harbour training camp. Photo: CHRIS RIX

Coach gives training camp the thumbs up

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

CASTING his eye over the facilities provided for his team at Pacific Bay Resort, new Wallabies' coach John Connolly admits that he can't help but be impressed.

"It's a wonderful facility, a wonderful training ground and it has everything that we need," the new coach said.

"It's well located in terms of Brisbane and Sydney and people travelling to it and it's great for families when they bring their families in so it has a lot of ticks next to its name."

Last week Connolly was in Coffs Harbour to look at the under 19 national team as it prepares for its World Cup assault in Dubai as well as getting his first look at what facilities are available to him and his team at Camp Wallaby.

Connolly has said since his appointment that the amount of time this country's finest union players will be spending in Coffs Harbour will be decreased but he was quick to point out that that stance shouldn't be seen as a sign that the ARU's relationship with Coffs Harbour is on its last legs.

"Finding the balance may well ensure the longevity of it, there's no doubt," the former Queensland coach added.

"We have to spend time in the states where we're playing and it's important that we have open training sessions and we mix in with those cities and that we're not a little aloof, we need to be in touch with the public.

"In saying that, we also need time to train by ourselves and that's where Coffs Harbour comes into play so finding that balance is very important."

Prior to next year's World Cup in France, Connolly is set to be the coach of the national team in at least 13 Test matches so he has plenty of time to stamp his own personality the team but his most immediate concern is selecting the right team to successfully challenge for the prized William Webb Ellis trophy.

"I think most people could probably pick a backline or very close to a backline but selecting the forwards is a lot more complicated," Connolly said.

"On a daily basis I'm having meetings with the Rod Macqueens and other people who are watching games and our opinions change regularly.

"With New South Wales and the Brumbies now coming into all those New Zealand sides in the Super 14, it's an important time for all the players."

One thing that the former strongman is adamant about is that every player who has been getting a regular spot in the Test team has no right to feel that they will be automatically selected.

"We've got a lot to do and none of the players should feel comfortable," he said.

"We're coming off eight losses basically in a row and most positions are up for grabs. How we play, we need to change our mentality and there's a lot to do."

The biggest mentality change that the Wallabies will have is a greater concentration on good old-fashioned grunt power up front.

"We'd definitely like to think that we know what's required at an international level, we need a scrum, we need a lineout and we need to be very competitive at the breakdown . . . and the Super 14 coaches are concentrating on that," the two-time Super 12 coach of the year said.



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