He might have overseen his first Wallabies victory, but Dave Rennie says he’s far from satisfied from his opening four Tests in charge given the Bledisloe Cup remains on enemy territory.
The Wallabies responded in the best way possible on Saturday night in the final trans-Tasman match of the year by overturning their biggest defeat to beat the All Blacks 24-22 in Brisbane.
While the Bledisloe Cup remains on New Zealand soil for an 18th straight year, the two-point victory meant that Rennie has come away with his reputation firmly intact after overseeing a win and a draw from his first four Tests in charge.
Given the class on display in Super Rugby Aotearoa and the greenness on display in Australian rugby, few gave the Wallabies much of a chance of ending their Bledisloe hoodoo in 2020.
Asked whether he would have taken a win and draw from his maiden four Tests in charge against the All Blacks, Rennie was quick to point out that the Wallabies still lost the series.
“You don’t win the Bledisloe Cup by winning one and drawing one,” the two-time winning Super Rugby coach with the Chiefs told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“What it tells us is that if we work hard enough for each other we can get results against anyone. But it doesn’t count for much tonight unless we back it up against Argentina in a couple of weeks.
“We’re trying to grow our game. There’s a lot of stuff we haven’t had time to do because of the (COVID) situation, so (I’m) excited about where we can take this team. But we’re not going to get carried away with tonight. It was a great result, but we’ve got to keep building on that.”
Key to the Wallabies’ success on Saturday night was the stunning impressions that a number of the younger players in the side delivered.
Debutant Tom Wright was exceptional on the right-wing, scoring a try and proving a handful every time he touched the ball.
Replacement props Taniela Tupou and Angus Bell, who was one of three debutants, both starred off the bench and gave the Wallabies some impact off the bench.
Even Lachie Swinton, who became the first Wallaby in history to be sent off on debut after a reckless shot on Sam Whitelock late in the first half, made a huge impression in his entrance to the international arena.
Rennie paid tribute to his debutants and refused to come down heavy on Swinton.
“I thought Lachie made a big statement in the 30-odd minutes that he was on the field,” he said.
“Everything that we asked of him bringing a bit of edge; what we know about tackle, around clean, around work-rate, he was massive.
“He’s pretty disappointed, but he made a real announcement on the international stage.
“I thought Tom, a try with his first touch is the sort of stuff you dream about.
“And Angus, he’s a kid, came on very early in the game and did a great job up front.
“There’s a lot of competition for places.
“Tonight was good because we’ve worked hard and we can take a bit of belief out of that, and what we know from the first Test we played the All Blacks (on October 11) and tonight, if we’re accurate and limit their opportunities at turnover, and if we kick well and apply pressure, then we can place a little bit of scoreboard pressure on them.”
Michael Hooper, who celebrated his 50th Test as Wallabies captain with victory, commented that the victory was significant for the many newcomers to taste success against the All Blacks.
“It’s a good start for them and (we) expect that, we want to make that the norm,” Hooper said.
“We make no bones about where we want to go as a team, and those guys are going to be a big driving factor in that so bottling that feeling and pushing each other and demanding more out of each other, which the young guys have brought and vice-versa from the top-down, is going to be important to go where want to go.”
The Wallabies will regroup on Wednesday night as they prepare to take on Argentina in Newcastle on November 21.