Petrus who? Scrum guru linked to Rennie's Wallabies coaching team

International
by Christy Doran

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has just arrived in Australia and, if he gets his way, he'll be joined by South African scrum guru Petrus du Plessis shortly.

Rennie has yet to finalise his coaching team, with either one or two forwards coaches to join Scott Wisemantel (attack) and Matt Taylor (defence) on his new-look Wallabies coaching team.

For months Brumbies coach Dan McKellar - a former Queensland Reds front-row forward - has been linked to joining Rennie's coaching team. It's likely McKellar will be announced as the Wallabies forward coach following Super Rugby AU and continue coaching the Brumbies beyond 2020.

But on Thursday morning, word started filtering in that the next addition to Rennie's coaching team could be du Plessis, who was earlier this week announced to be leaving the Glasgow Warriors -where he's been a player-coach - to take up another opportunity elsewhere.

That opportunity could be with Rennie, who was head coach of the Warriors for the past three years.

It's understood Rennie wants du Plessis - a three-time premiership winning tight-head prop with Saracens, who also won the Heineken Cup twice - to be his scrum coach.

But for that to occur there will have to be a few hurdles to jump over.

Those issues are three-fold.

First, du Plessis doesn't have a visa and that process is likely to be slowed because of COVID-19.

Second, it's not yet set in stone whether the Wallabies will play in 2020.

The hope is that The Rugby Championship can still be played this year, with a possible hub in New Zealand to allow for Australia, Argentina and South Africa to base themselves in the Shaky Isles.

If however a hub can't occur, as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested earlier in the week might not be possible, Rugby Australia is still optimistic that four Bledisloe Tests can be played against the All Blacks.

The third reason is financial, particularly given the broadcast dollars have yet to float through because the Tests haven't been given the green light.

Du Plessis is somewhat of a left-field decision, but Rennie has often had in his coaching team a specialist scrum coach to go along with a forwards coach.

The South African spent the best part of two decades playing in the United Kingdom. 

He won three titles with Saracens and left the English powerhouse following the 2016-17 season, before joining London Irish and then Glasgow in 2018.

As well as carving out an impressive career in the UK, du Plessis is a registered physiotherapist and has been working for the National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent interview with BBC South Africa, du Plessis said it was important that every person helped during these unprecedented times.

"It's massively important that the don't just sit on our hands," du Plessis said.

"We get out there and we help because I've got a set of skills at home. I said this to some of the people at the NHS when they ask me why I came back. And I said, 'it's not about me and I'm going back, it's more about getting hands on deck, helping out wherever we can'.

"I might not be the most important (person) in there but I fill some of the roles from behind and I get stuck in and I've got that patient contact so that we help everybody get back on their feet."

Rennie will address the media on Friday.