Cron ready to challenge Wallabies in new coaching role

Tue, Apr 2, 2024, 11:51 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Mike Cron, who was the All Blacks forwards coach from 2004 to 2019, spent last week working with the Western Force, offering his insights to players and coaches.

New Wallabies assistant Mike Cron is excited to help turn the Wallabies around as he looks to prepare players for the rigours of Test Rugby.

Cron joins the Wallabies coaching staff with almost 200 games worth of experience in the All Blacks system, largely focused around the set-piece.

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The uncle of Western Force coach Simon understands what it takes to succeed, helping the Kiwis to three World Cup titles, two with the All Blacks and one with the Black Ferns in 2022.

“It’s one thing playing Super but it’s certainly a big gap now between Super and international," he told reporters.

“Even in New Zealand, it took two or three games to get up to speed because we don’t have the Jaguares and the South Africans so the Super Rugby competition is a bit diluted compared to international.

“You can see talent well at Super level but then you’ve got to get into the ring. The shadow boxing is over, now we get into the ring of international rugby and then we’ll find out.”

Cron had praise for a former Wallabies coach but not Joe Schmidt's predecessor, rather Dave Rennie, questioning the selections at the World Cup.

“I thought Dave Rennie was doing a good job. We could see the Wallabies improving and the win-loss ratio didn’t quite match that but you could see the boys every Test getting better," he admits.

“I thought they were heading the right way back then so what we’ve got to do is ensure the squad that is picked, we don’t have much time before we get into the ring, but we have to pick smart.

“One thing I ever learnt about professional Rugby is 80% of coaching is on selection so get that part right…there’s always going to be some people that challenge what you select but there was a few wildcards wasn’t there in that World Cup team.”

Cron was straight into action in his new role, down at Melbourne Rebels training with Schmidt on Tuesday.

The 'scrum doctor' took a keen eye at Taniela Tupou, one of several Rebels front-rowers with Wallaby experience.

“Too right (there's improvement left in Taniela Tupou). We had a meeting with Taniela today, a one-on-one, just quietly chatting and seeing where he’s at," he explained.

"You give them your phone numbers and you form these relationships as you generate this brotherhood. We’re all working together for the common cause...It’s good to sit down and have a one-on-one with a lot of players today.”

Cron has spent the past World Cup working with World Rugby and their referee group.

He believes it gives him a unique insight as they prepare for the July Test series against Wales and Georgia.

"I was there as the only coach so giving my view of was that a dangerous tackle? Was that a bad cleanout, it gave me another insight into how they think and operate.

“It was interesting going out to the dark side for a while and just seeing how they operate.

“I was with them for a few years so I was doing all the Six Nations and Rugby Championship games and did Zoom meetings with the forwards staff and the refs, trying to get everyone on the same page so we get better outcomes at set-piece.

“I ended up in a weekend analysing over 1000 scrums and lineouts and that didn’t include Super Rugby. What it does do is the first thing to go on a coach who’s old, it’s like a horse trainer where you look at a horse and the eyes' gone so mine is bloody good because I’ve been inundated and increased my volume in the last three years.

“I’ve been able to zero in on the important clean out or kick off that needs to be corrected.”

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