Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos admits sacking Dave Rennie via Zoom was not ideal, but that the former Wallabies coach understood why it had to be done that way.
Marinos was a guest on The Roar Rugby Podcast on Tuesday and spoke of the decision to replace Rennie with Eddie Jones, and gave an insight into the differences between the pair.
He also talked about the Super Rugby alliance with New Zealand, and the new law variations to be used during the competition, including his personal favourite – the decision to not sin bin players who accidentally knock on while attempting to grab an intercept.
Marinos played a key role in the huge move to replace Rennie with Jones just five Tests out from the Rugby World Cup.
He was in South Africa when the decision was made so delivered the news to Rennie via Zoom.
“Ideally I wouldn’t have liked to have been delivering the message I had to over technology – it would have been great to be able to do it in person,” said Marinos.
“But that’s just the circumstances. And you just got to manage that. And he understands that.”
He was asked if he had since reached out to Rennie.
“I have reached out, I’ve spoken to him, I will always want to keep good communication with him because I think he’s a he’s a really good coach,” Marinos said. “And, more importantly, he’s a good human being.
“I haven’t seen a coach that’s had quite such a big impact on our team, even when they’re going through a pretty tough period last year and that they weren’t getting results lost a couple of Tests, not only by some very interesting referee decisions in the last minute, but by very narrow margins.
“He always had the changeroom, he never, ever lost the sheds. Players really wanted to play for him and believed in him and certainly believed in the direction they were going – but this is performance sport and we’re judged, and we need to be assessed, on our results.”
Host Brett McKay jokingly asked Marinos if he reported to Jones under the new org chart at RA.
“I think at this stage, probably the Prime Minister reports to Eddie Jones,” Marinos joked.
There is plenty of anticipation about Jones’ first squad – likely to be announced for a camp in April. PLayers are certainly on edge and Marinos has hinted that there could be surprises.
“The beautiful thing with Eddie now is, no one’s guaranteed. Everyone’s vying for a spot,” Marinos said.
“He certainly is the kind of coach that will let everybody know that there’s nothing guaranteed which, which adds to the intrigue and excitement that we’ve got ahead of us.
“When I caught up with him, just after his appointment, and we were just talking about the general depth and player and availability, he knew a lot of players that one wouldn’t expect he would.
“He’s acutely aware of where the talent does lie. And he’s also got a very good eye in identifying that talent that probably hasn’t come to the fore yet.”
Marinos said there some players who were on the Wallabies fringes, who had impressed Jones.
The Australian game’s top suit has also been impressed by Jones’ commerical eye.
“Eddie also understands the value of the commercial program that underpins … the Wallabies,” Marinos said.
“One of the first things he said to me was he understands who our broadcaster is and we’ve got to work hard to make sure we get as many hours pointing towards their platform.
“He’s very open, very comfortable and engaged with commercial partners. He does quite a lot. He has done quite a lot in the past in his personal capacity. But I think the biggest thing that I’ve experienced with Eddie over the years is just his absolute thirst for knowledge and understanding.
“He’s not afraid to engage with a whole array of different people from different walks of life, have different experiences, be it in business, be it in performance, sport, be it in life skills.
“That adds value and for us, commercially, is wonderful. With that confidence we can go to all of our commercial partners, know that he’s going to be able to really articulate his vision and his plan of what he wants but also work with them to try and maximise what they want out of the relationship with rugby.”