"Morgan won one game when he was in Melbourne": Wessels hits back at Turinui criticism

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Dave Wessels has hit back at Morgan Turinui after the former Wallaby suggested it was time for the Rebels coach to move on.

Speaking on the Tight Five podcast on Sunday night, Turinui said Wessels was not the right man for the job after failing to give the club any serious success.

"The really cold harsh fact around the Rebels (is) I just think Dave Wessels is not the answer," he said.

"They had two great opportunities, two great years, and they didn’t do it. They just didn’t have the environment there, the output, the tactical nous, the technical capabilities to perform and I don’t see any evidence that will change.

"They’re doing some pretty basic things in attack. I don’t see development in their game."

Wessels was quick to rebuff Turinui's comments and point to the former Rebels assistant's tenure at the club, which ended after Wessels took over in 2018.

"The reality is we haven't played the way that we wanted to play," he said.

"Whether or not I take Morgan's comments too seriously is probably another question, I mean Morgan won one game when he was in Melbourne.

"I think his attack, he's criticised our attack, his attack scored 21 tries, we scored 56 the year after he left.

"He was just a member of staff that we didn't keep on."

Turinui also made mention of Hunter Paisami and Jack Maddocks as players who failed to reach their peak at the Rebels before moving onto other Super Rugby clubs and finding their groove.

"I thought his comments around things like Jack Maddocks and Hunter was probably what I felt was quite harsh," Wessels said.

"Before I met Jack Maddocks, I think he'd played two or three Super Rugby games but by the end of '18 he was one of the leading try scorers in Super Rugby and a Wallaby as well.

"Hunter was going well as a development player for us until he had an unfortunate incident in a nightclub and we had to release him."


Wessels said Turinui's criticism wouldn't sit with him for long.

"I think as a coaching group I've always prided ourselves on having the humility to say when things haven't gone well, why haven't they gone well," he said.

"So, last week I had long conversations with guys like Eddie Jones and various people whose opinions I do trust, so I think we're on a journey as a coaching staff.

"I think I've never created the impression or given anyone the impression that I think we're the finished product but I'm a lot better coach than I was say, three years ago, and I think we're building something really special in Melbourne.

"I think if somebody could come in and spend time with our group and see how connected they are and how much they care about each other and all the things that we're working on, despite all the challenges, we're on a pretty good path and that's the only thing that really matters to me, to be honest."

The Rebels have fallen short of the Super Rugby finals in the past two seasons after jumping out of the blocks early and fading late in the season to finish out of playoff contention.

The Rebels host the Reds at Brookvale Oval on Friday July 10, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.