Wallabies are still calling Coffs home

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

CONCERNS within the community that the Wallabies will be turning their back on Coffs Harbour under the coaching reign of the newly-appointed John Connolly have no basis, according to the Australian Rugby Union.

At his initial press conference, Connolly said that under his stewardship the team would be spending less time at Camp Wallaby but the ARU's General Manager of Commercial Operations Brian Thorburn says that the team will continue to meet all contractual requirements of their agreement with Coffs Harbour City Council.

"The arrangement with Coffs Harbour is for us to have so many nights a year there and off the top of my head that number is 25 nights a year," Thorburn explained.

"How many nights we'll stay there now is unknown at the moment but this isn't a case of pulling back on any commitment to Coffs Harbour, but it's fair to say that the facilities were used over and above the arrangement under Eddie Jones and that will probably be different under John Connolly."

Once the sacking of former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones was made official, Thorburn believed that it was merely a fait acompli that different arrangements for the use of the facilities at Pacific Bay Resort would be required.

"I think firstly there's a whole bunch of arrangements which will be different as coaches like to implement their own ideas," he said.

"Like every coach, John Connolly has his own unique style and processes that he likes to use and to be fair he has only been in the job a week, so there are no firm arrangements made.

"The Coffs Harbour facilities are of an international standard, they're world class and best practice. We're going to use them it's just a matter of tweaking how we'll use them."

Thorburn would not reveal if a reduction in the time spent in Coffs Harbour would make a difference financially to the city stating that the terms of the commercial arrangement are in the strictest confidence.

What he did admit to though was that if the Wallabies spent less time in Coffs Harbour, it might be time away from a world class facility but the different coaching culture would help the ARU in other areas.

"Eddie liked to keep the team in Coffs Harbour for as long as possible and travel to the test match on the Thursday before the match," he said.

"John's approach will be to get there on the Sunday before the match and spend the week in a city leading up to a test.

"There's advantages in that for us as there's a desire to create anticipation, hype and press in the local market and by having the team down there for a week they can be seen a lot more and out in the open but that's not John's reason for his preferred lead-up."

The city's current agreement with the ARU expires after next year's World Cup in France but although Thorburn wouldn't rule out another extension of the contract with the Council he admits that it isn't an issue that is on the ARU's radar at the moment.

"It's very hard with the facility to say what is going to happen. There's been no discussion of life beyond the World Cup, we'll turn our minds to that when it comes closer to time."



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