Kafer aims to make Aus­tralia great again in new ARU role

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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

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