Mike Cron on why he joined the Wallabies and the ‘big gap’

After several months of pursuit from Joe Schmidt, scrum guru Mike Cron was convinced to lend a helping hand to the Wallabies after decades of service to New Zealand Rugby.

The legendary coach has over 200 Tests of experience with the All Blacks from 2004 to 2019 spanning four Rugby World Cups, with two title wins in 2011 and 2015. Linking up with Wayne Smith in 2022, Cron added another World Cup title with the Black Ferns.

Cron admitted he “never thought” he would coach Australia but in the age of professionalism it’s all about relationships.

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After a long history of rubbing shoulders with Joe Schmidt from back at the Blues and Bay of Plenty, the pair have formed a strong friendship.

“I never thought it would happen, my dad would roll in his grave I think,” Cron told Newstalk ZB’s Sportstalk about his decision.

“But in the modern era we have a lot of close relationships in coaching and Joe rang and said I really need a hand, just til the end of the British & Irish Lions series next year. It’s a 16-month gig.

“At the moment we’ve got two ex-All Blacks coaches, one is in Scotland and one is in England, Joe over here, it’s just a sign of professional sport I think.”

Aside from the desire to help out Schmidt personally, the “hell of a challenge” was a motivating factor to lift the Wallabies from 10th in the global standings much higher up the rung.

Cron and Schmidt hoped to be able to hand over the Wallabies after the Lions series in a better place and use their knowledge to improve local coaches.

“The goal really is to get them ready for the British & Lions tour. If there is talent unsighted, hopefully we can find it, and if there is talent there already, hopefully we can make them better.”

The Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies have started strong this year in Super Rugby Pacific, bringing hope to Australian rugby after the 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign.

The Waratahs knocked off the Crusaders early in the season but have since struggled to make clutch plays in winnable games, while the Melbourne Rebels are sitting 6th of the ladder.

Whilst it was a positive sign, Cron warned against using Super Rugby Pacific as a yardstick for how the Wallabies would perform against Wales and Georgia in July when they resume internationals.

“They seem to be a bit more competitive this year, the Super Rugby teams,” Cron said.

“What people have got to understand though, is the gap between international and Super Rugby is quite big now, now we don’t have South Africa and the Jaguares in the competition.

“The All Blacks showed that the last couple of years taking the first few Tests getting up to the speed of international rugby.

“A few years ago I think the gap was smaller. Whatever you see at Super, it’s a whole new ball-game at international hence why they needed some international coaches to come in and manoeuvre.

“Wayne Smith and I took on the Black Ferns, and I thought that was a hell of a challenge, it was, this one is even bigger.”

Source link: https://www.rugbypass.com/news/mike-cron-on-why-he-joined-wallabies/




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