Emerging Australian talent excites new Wallabies assistant Wisemantel

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Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Wallabies assistant Scott Wisemantel says he will be looking to develop a balanced attacking approach in the new Australian era and has urged fans to be buoyed by the country's emerging talent.

Wisemantel was the first addition to the Wallabies’ assistant coaching panel after coach Dave Rennie was appointed in November.

The 49-year-old has spent the last two years working with Eddie Jones and England, the most recent job in almost a decade overseas.

When England’s World Cup campaign ended, Wisemantel was left with a dilemma and ultimately the timing felt right for him to return to Australia.

“I suppose post the World Cup with England, I had a choice:  Do you go and do the same thing again for 1-2 years and then look at potentially another four-year cycle or do you come back home, and this is home, and then have a dig here and try and create some change’,” he said.

“That was one appealing factor and then the other appealing factor was the fact that I knew some of the staff coming back, I know Dave, I know Matt Taylor, I know Scotty Johnson, I know Chris Webb so that was appealing as well.”

Scott Wisemantel was with England in his most recent coaching stint. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe Wallabies had never been far from his mind and Wisemantel said he always felt he would end up back in Australian rugby in some capacity.

“I always had the desire to come back - it's been 10 years since I coached in Australia so there's always a desire to come back, because this is your home,” he said.

“The other thing is it's a team you love - you love the Wallabies. If you grow up and you support rugby, it's the pinnacle so it's really nice to come back.”

Wisemantel has been watching from afar as Australian rugby has weathered some rocky seasons in recent times but points to the next generation as the reason for fans to be excited about the prospects.

He pinpointed Matt To'omua and James O'Connor as the frontrunners for the Wallabies no. 10 spot but said the level underneath gave him just as much reason to be positive.

“You talk about that it's turbulent but the margin's haven't been that great so they're not far off and I look at, I more so look at the talent coming through and that's exciting, for me that's the exciting part,” he said.

“If you just look at the 10s coming through, you've got Noah (Lolesio), you've got (Reesjan) Pasitoa behind him, you have Isaac Lucas, you have Will Harrison, you have the Gordon (Carter & Mason Gordon) brothers up there in Queensland, you've got young Bowen, you’ve got (Tane) Edmed.

“You've got all these 10s, it's an exciting time.

“People look at the doom and gloom but there's actually some real depth coming through so there's going to be good competition for positions."

Noah Lolesio is one of the talents that Wisemantel is excited to see develop. Photo: Getty ImagesWisemantel admitted that only results would turn around some of the negativity that has surrounded the game in recent years but pointed again to the young talent as key to progression.

"I think it can it's about winning I suppose, that's the bottom line, that's the starting point is to win and then to develop and select some of these younger guys and bring them through," he said.

As the attack coach, Wisemantel's department will be one of the most discussed in the Wallabies outfit as the debate rages on between "running rugby" and "winning rugby".

Australia has battled to strike a happy medium in recent years and a philosophy of passing at all costs hurt them in last year's Rugby World Cup.

Wisemantel said he wants to see a balance in this Wallabies team, developing players who can adapt to all approaches.

"it's just a bit of balance," he said.

"Whether it's run, kick, defend, all sort of bends into each other so you've just got to be really good at each of those areas and then the transitions between them. So, I think it's about balance."

Scott Wisemantel in his time with French side Lyon. Photo: AFPWisemantel and his fellow Wallabies staff all bring extensive experience in the Northern Hemisphere with them, something that will be quickly put to the test in Australia's opening July Tests against Ireland.

After a decade overseas, Wisemantel said there was a tendency to underestimate European teams in Australia, seeing them as too one-dimensional.

“You look at the current French team, that has the potential to be an absolute great team and they've got depth, they've got depth coming through,” he said.

“I look at the English system, there's depth, and the other thing is they're battle hardened.

“They play a lot of rugby and I think we undersell the competitions that they play in, whether that's top 14, whether that's Pro14, whether that's the Premiership, I think we undersell it." 

“We've got Super Rugby and then we've got our Test season. I think we've got enough rugby, I just think - do we underestimate them? - yes we do,” he said.

“Unless you've been there, you've experienced it, (you can underestimate them) and it can be a grind at times but there's diverse tactics, it's not just one way to play the game.

“There's teams there that play totally differently and they still win, it's an education process.”

Wisemantel and fellow assistant Matt Taylor are spending the upcoming months travelling around the Super Rugby teams, in what Wisemantel describes as a “satellite coaching” role.

“We're more or less rotating ourselves around the four Super Rugby clubs and just more or less offering assistance where we can and getting to meet the players,” he said.

“That's what we're doing - we're like satellite coaches for those provinces. As they have issues arise or if they want to do research in any area, we become their researcher assistants I suppose.”

The Wallabies take on Ireland in Tests on July 4 and 11 in Brisbane and Sydney before hosting Fiji in Townsville on Saturday July 18. TIckets on sale soon.