Byrne spreading wings in ARU skills role

by AAP

Skills guru Mick Byrne is salivating at the chance to fine-tune the techniques of future Wallabies like Taniela Tupou as he begins spreading his gospel around Australian rugby.

Former AFL ruckman Byrne joined the Australian Rugby Union last July as national skills coach, but has so far spent most of his time working with Michael Cheika and the Wallabies through the Rugby Championship and their European tour.

Since returning, Byrne has been travelling the country speaking with Super Rugby teams about adopting some of his philosophies and putting his AFL-influenced training drills into practice.

Mick Byrne at Wallabies training. Photo: Getty Images.Byrne, who helped turn the New Zealand forward pack into a slick off-loading machine through three World Cup campaigns, has already made a visible impact on the Australian side.

"Coaches are on board. The thing that I'm enjoying, really, is the openness that's being given to me around delivering some of those skill sets," Byrne told AAP.

"They've been taking on board everything, working with the players and it's good to get to the young guys at a good part of the season as well.

"It's just about bedding down some structures and habits, really, about getting better and it'll work well." - Mick Byrne

There is scope for Byrne to make a big impact with plenty of exciting and impressionable young talent across the five Australian franchises.

Indeed Tupou, aka the 'Tongan Thor', could become one of pet projects.

The 20-year-old Queensland Reds prop - who has already worked with Byrne after joining the Wallabies' European tour as a development player - had a fearsome reputation as a ballrunner before he had even signed a professional contract.

But Byrne reckons he can help take Tupou to the next level.

"What he brings as a tighthead... parts of his game, it's difficult to coach into players," he said.

"He's got some natural skills there but along with that, you're getting the chance to harness some core skill roles through his lineout, scrummaging and also his tackling and running lines, just to sharpen up a little bit of technical work around those.

"He is a talent, and let's hope that he can continue to grow into the role he's showing the potential for."