"I like the fact there's an independent in a selection room": Test selection panel set to stay

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A Wallabies selection panel appears hear to stay, according to Rugby AU director of rugby Scott Johnson.

Johnson, who joined Rugby Australia at the end of 2018, was one of a three-man Wallabies selection panel in 2019, along with dual international Michael O'Connor and Michael Cheika.

Since leaving as Wallabies coach, Cheika has been public about his frustrations around the appointment of Johnson that contributed to a tumultuous end to his national coaching tenure.

O'Connor and Cheika had a public to and fro last month over the selection process with O'Connor accusing Cheika of dominating the process and allowing little insight into his team's game plan.

Incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has said he would have no problem with Johnson being included in selection decisions but the specifics of that are yet to be fully discussed.

O'Connor will not be part of that panel any more, having been let go earlier this year as a contracted employee, but Johnson said he felt independent voices were important.

"Going forward, Dave's coming on board here, Michael's (O'Connor's) not with us anymore...Going forward Dave and I will sit down and work out a selection process with the board that we're all happy with," he said on the Rugby Ruckus Tight Five Podcast.

"I like the fact there's an independent in a selection room, I know it's important a as coach because you get very very fixated, it's hard not to and it's not always your vision is not always perfect."

Johnson said ultimately the job of a selector outside of the coaching staff was to bring "checks and balances" to teams.

"There was plenty that worked well last year)," he said.

"Any selectors your job is to make sure there's checks and balances.

"At the end of the day you're only there to keep the coach really honest with his selection process...he coaches the team, but you've got to make him work hard for the team that he gets," he said.

"He's got to articulate and if he can articulate and it's, such a subjective formula selection, but it's got to make sure it's a vibrant discussions.

"I'm all for vibrant discussions, get in the room discuss work your way around it, not always going to be perfect but at least there's a process."