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Schmidt's got smarts: All Blacks back Wallabies coach

3 minute read

After Joe Schmidt boosted their careers with club and country, Mark Telea and Rieko Ioane have backed Australia's new head coach to rebuild the Wallabies.

JOE SCHMIDT.
JOE SCHMIDT. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The All Blacks who know Joe Schmidt best are backing Australia's new coach to improve the fortunes of the once-great Wallabies.

Schmidt left his assistant role with the All Blacks last year to oversee the Wallabies' coaching set-up, becoming the third Kiwi to take the role after Robbie Deans (2008-13) and Dave Rennie (2020-22).

The 58-year-old never played at the elite level but turned a successful teaching career into coaching, first in New Zealand's provinces.

After taking Ireland to the pinnacle of European rugby and the top ranking, he returned to coaching in New Zealand as an assistant at the Auckland-based Blues in 2022, working with stars including Beauden Barrett and winger Rieko Ioane.

It was under Schmidt's tutelage that another wide player, Mark Telea, broke through to the international game with a superb Super Rugby season in 2022.

A year later, Telea set up a try as the All Blacks narrowly lost the World Cup final - with Schmidt in the coaching box as New Zealand's attack guru.

"He knows what he's talking about. That attention to detail ... he's got the smarts," Telea told AAP.

"He gets into all the stuff that's missing in rugby that a lot of people don't pick up. It brings the team together, that little stuff.

"He's such a good coach and Aussie will be so lucky to have him."

Schmidt has been referred to by the Kiwi media as the 'brain' of previous All Blacks coach Ian Foster, while Super Rugby's Blues made their first final in 19 years following his return two seasons ago.

Ioane said he "couldn't speak highly enough" of his former mentor.

"It's those little one percenters that he picks up, it might be just ball placement, how I carry, how I fend or what-not," the All Blacks flyer told AAP.

"Little skills like that. He's a smart man and he knows footy."

Telea backed Schmidt to restore the Wallabies' belief.

"He can turn Australia around," he said.

Whether that turnaround would extend to a return to competitiveness in the Bledisloe Cup, Barrett was unwilling to commit.

"I just know he's a very good coach. I can certainly say that," the five-eighth said. 

"I've always been impressed with Joe." 

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