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Connolly head-to-head with his critics

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Australian coach John Connolly on Sunday accused former players of ripping rugby apart with their criticism of the Wallabies.


The Wallabies returned home last week from a European tour which produced mixed results, winning internationals against Scotland and Italy, but drawing with World Cup pool opponents Wales and losing to Ireland.


Former players, notably Simon Poidevin, Nick Farr-Jones, Mark Ella and David Campese, were critical of the Wallabies’ tour performances, which prompted an outburst from Connolly.


Connolly, who took over from sacked coach Eddie Jones after last year’s European tour of just one win from four internationals, said before the latest tour that critics had called for more player experimentation.


“We give more people a chance, they scream there’s not continuity, so you get used to that,” Connolly said in a radio interview here Sunday.


“I suppose it’s disappointing that former players jump on the bandwagon.


“They know how tough it is and yet they are quite happy to serve it up to the players.


“I mean, it doesn’t worry me that much but I feel disappointed [for] the players. I don’t know [why it happens]. It’s definitely a nasty business at times.


“You would think they would be the ones who would love the sport and jump behind the sport to help it.


“Even when we beat South Africa 49-0 in a record score this year, it wasn’t that Australia played well, it was that the South Africans were rubbish.


“The people that do it are the former players. They rip the game apart.”


Ex-Wallaby winger Wendell Sailor, currently serving a drugs ban, said in a column in The Sunday Telegraph: “It’s time John Connolly stopped being a spin doctor and took more responsibility for our performances.”


Connolly said the European tour was all about developing depth.


“We need to develop 30 top players,” he said ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.


365 Digital

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