National skills coach Mick Byrne says Australia’s Super Rugby franchises are receptive to skills initiatives, after meetings last week.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika met with the franchise coaches on his return from Europe, in a bid to unite the teams on a number of levels, with skills a major focus.
Byrne said it wasn’t a matter of dictating playing styles, rather establishing more of a national approach to skills.
“Cheik's really working hard to involve everybody in the development of Australian rugby and last week was his second meeting he's had with the Super Rugby coaches for next season and part of that was a little presentation around our skills and there's been buy in from all those coaches,” he said.
“Moving forward, we'll see a greater understanding about what we're trying to achieve with our skill sets out of the Super Rugby and we're certainly not in there saying, 'this is how we want you to play the game'," he said.
"It's not about the philosophies - each coach will be himself and he'll have his own philosophies about how they want to play, we're just getting that technique into their training." - Mick Byrne
Byrne, who spent 11 years as part of New Zealand’s set up, has been back in Australia since July, working mainly with the Wallabies since coming across, and he has been pleased with the team’s progress, which manifested itself at times later in the Test year.
“I had some goals and my biggest one was that the players all bought into what we were trying to do and that was my challenge really to make sure that we put a program in place that the players all could buy into and see the value in,” he said.
“Full credit to the players, they've done that and they've worked really hard at it and before and after training, the players were working really hard on developing their skills and the mindset's been really, really positive and it's been a really good outcome for us.”
Byrne has been at Knox College in Sydney’s north this week with Wallabies Henry Speight and Scott Sio, as part of the Australian Rugby Performance Academy, helping the next generation of rugby talent master their skills.
Skill development at junior levels is a major element of Byrne’s role, which encompasses all levels of Australian rugby, not just the Wallabies or Australia’s professional teams.
“The sooner we can start changing the habits of what our players develop the better and the good thing about these guys is if you're modelling, it's a bit like plasticine,” he said.
“You might break a little bit off but it's easy to put back on and fix up. Later on in life, it's a bit like concrete, you chisel it away and it drops off and that might be lost forever.
“So, we don't want to lose any part of our players as we make changes and when you do that at a younger age, you model them and they move into really good shape."