Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa admits to being “shocked” at the dismissal of outgoing head coach Dave Rennie earlier this month, with Eddie Jones returning to the helm of the national side.
Rennie looked set to continue as Wallabies boss after the Autumn Nations Series, despite a poor win rate of 38% during his tenure.
That was until Jones was sacked by England. Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan admitted it was an opportunity they could not miss to get the veteran coach back in Australia.
Rennie had players’ respect
Alaalatoa, who committed to Australian rugby until 2027, messaged Rennie as soon as he heard the news to underline the players’ support for him.
“I was quite shocked. I wasn’t expecting it and my first reaction was wondering how Dave was,” Alaalatoa told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I sent him a message and told him that the boys respected him, for the man he was off the field and the world-class coach that he was on the field.”
The prop suggested the sacking was unlucky, given how close their results were in November and with the number of injuries in the Australian camp.
“If anything at the end of last year I was just excited to get stuck into this year,” he said.
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“In terms of the Spring Tour, the results didn’t go our way but we lost three of those games by a few points, and with an injury-hit list.”
Moving into the Jones era
Alaalatoa claims there is a sense of uncertainty amongst the players as to where they will stand with Jones, but the simple focus has to be on playing well at club level, and the rest will work itself out.
“That’s the vibe you get straight away, you just don’t know now, especially with a lot of the boys here now, who haven’t been coached by him before,” Alaalatoa said.
“But what we have spoken about already is we can only control what we can control.
“If you want to be part of those discussions with Eddie you have to train well and perform well in your state union.
“So again, you will see a lift in the Super Rugby competition, and that’s awesome. That’s what you want.”