Nationality of Wallabies coach not important: Toomua

International
AAP
by AAP & Staff Writer

Playmaker Matt Toomua says the nationality of the Wallabies coach is not as important as finding the candidate that will help return Australian rugby to regular success.

Plenty has been made of the fact new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is a New Zealander, with no Australians considered to replace Michael Cheika in the top job.

But Toomua, who has also put up his hand up to wear the Wallabies No.10 jersey in 2020 after the departures of a swag of veteran Test playmakers, said the players regarded talk about the coach's nationality as "white noise".

“We just want the best coach. We want to be successful because that’s what inspires Australians to play the game: being successful," he said at an event to announce Melbourne as the host of the opening Bledisloe Cup Test next year.

"Obviously having the luxury of traditional Australian representative people at the top there would be good in some sense, but I think Australians will get behind a successful Wallaby team. How we do that is probably not as important."

Rennie is the first coach of Polynesian heritage to coach the Wallabies and Toomua said his arrival at the helm of the national team was reflective of Australian society - and the national team itself.

"Even just the make-up of the team itself; a lot of guys may not have been born in Australia but have been adopted and it’s probably a fair reflection of society at the moment, that team," he said.

"Yeah, we have all been coached by coaches of different nationalities but we all speak rugby and that’s the main thing.”

The loss of Christian Lealiifano, Bernard Foley and Quade Cooper to play overseas means locking in a new five-eighth will be a top priority for Rennie.

The versatile Toomua had limited opportunities there under Cheika, who mixed and matched his halves pairing throughout his tenure.

Toomua started at No.10 in Australia's World Cup pool game against Georgia but has only worn the jersey five times since making his debut against the All Blacks in 2013.

The 29-year-old said he wanted to stake an early claim on the jersey, with Australia's first internationals of the year against Ireland in July.

The Wallabies also host two Bledisloe Cup matches against New Zealand, with the first in Toomua's home town of Melbourne on August 8.

"My ambitions are the same as everyone, to get in that starting team, but with the changing of the guard there's a bit of unknown there," Toomua said.

"Like others you have dreams of being in a starting jersey and for me it would be that 10 jersey."

James O'Connor looms as another contender depending on where he plays in his return to Super Rugby with the Reds.

Toomua said he needed to form a strong combination with the anointed Melbourne Rebels halfback with a trio in the running to land the role after Will Genia's move to Japan.

Fiji international Frank Lomani, young Australian James Tuttle and South Africa-born veteran Ryan Louwrens are the No.9 hopefuls.

"I will have some competition there as well with Andrew Deegan, who did really well at the (Western) Force, so we've recruited well," Toomua said.

"There's some big holes with Will and Quade gone but I think with the young guys we've got coming through there's a recipe for success."

 

Toomua said he hadn't spoken to Rennie since the New Zealander's appointment last week.

However, he did recall that he hadn't had great experiences playing against Rennie-coached sides.

"I played against teams that he coached early on - was on the losing side in the Australian under 20s World Cup final and then the Super Rugby final, so hopefully he can help us win one," Toomua said.