Kafer aims to make Australia great again in new ARU role
SYDNEY: Former Wallabies back Rod Kafer wants to help make Australian rugby great again after being charged with setting up a National Coaching Advisory Panel, his first official role in the game for more than a decade.
The TV pundit and businessman, widely regarded Down Under as one of the sharpest observers of the game, has been recruited by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) as part of a drive to arrest the decline of the 15-man code.
His first priority in his role, Kafer said, would be to tap into the “tremendous amount” of rugby knowledge that exists around the country and return to a time when Australian rugby was renowned for its invention.
“We all remember when rugby was great, and what it brought to us, and we need to get back there,” he told reporters.
“When Australia was great, we recognised that there was a team who were innovative, they were thoughtful, they were prepared to bring something a little bit different.
“We need to establish in Australia a concept of a unity of purpose. What are we about? What are things that when somebody looks at an Australian rugby team play, they can immediately identify?”
Australian rugby has struggled at Test and Super Rugby level this year on the pitch, while the process of cutting either the Western Force or Melbourne Rebels for next season has proved a public relations disaster off it.
Kafer played 12 times for the Wallabies in 1999 and 2000, including two Rugby World Cup matches in 1999 at the tournament where Australia won a second Webb Ellis Cup.
Although the Wallabies were once famed for playing running rugby, Kafer thought the job of the new panel would be about more fundamental issues than imposing central strictures over what style of game to play.
“We have to determine what’s the right mechanism for rugby today,” he said.
“(But) every player that gets to Super Rugby level should be able to catch and pass the ball consistently under pressure.
“We should position players who get into professional rugby with a skill-set appropriate for the level of the game they are playing, and we probably don’t always get that at the moment.”
Kafer, whose only coaching experience was 18 months at English club Saracens, said restructuring the game, particularly at high-performance level, was “critical” and more should be done to keep in touch with Australian coaching talent abroad.
“Every player and coach has a part to play in developing future Wallabies, Wallaroos and Olympians, and the more resources we provide to improve those players the better our future will be,” he added. – Reuters