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Australia rugby lacking the X-factor – O’Neill

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Returning Australia rugby boss John O’Neill plans to put thefactor back into Australian rugby and rectify the players basic skill levels that he says has been lost.

The leading sporting administrator reclaimed the reins at the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) this week following a stint revolutionising soccer.

He is now preparing to wave his magic wand in rugby once again just three months out from the start of the Rugby World Cup in France.

Since leaving the ARU in 2004, O’Neill believes the sport has slipped from the second most popular football code in Australia to fourth.

“I think the game itself has become unentertaining,” O’Neill told Sydney radio station 2KY.

“We are absolutely in the entertainment business and it’s one thing to win but if you’re not winning in style, and if you’re not producing an entertaining spectacle.

“We really have to take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘How are we travelling?’ I mean, is the game as popular as it should be, and have we slipped, and why have we slipped. I think the medicine has to be taken.”

O’Neill, who played a major role in Australia’s successful hosting of the 2003 World Cup, wants to make sure that players have basic skills worthy of top-class professionals.

“I think we’ve seen examples this year of well-paid professional athletes, players not possessing the basic skills,” he said.

“And you have to then ask that question how could someone get to so far in the game and have a Super 14 contract and have trouble passing, catching and kicking?”

The former Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive is widely regarded as Australia’s best sports administrator since helping aiding Frank Lowy to abolish the National Soccer League, replacing it with the more streamlined and popular A-League.

His success was confirmed when the Socceroos not only qualified for the 2006 World Cup but reached the second round.

O’Neill says he’ll begin his return to rugby by analysing how and why South Africa and New Zealand manage their teams better than Australia.

“I saw some very good games of Super 14 this year, they just didn’t involve Australian teams,” O’Neill said adding that he wants Australia to have a more vocal role in international rugby laws.

“The laws as they are, with all their failing NZ teams and South African teams have been able to play good rugby albeit under flawed laws.

“Therefore, I think we’ve got to be very honest with ourselves about our own coaching methods and our own skill levels.”

 

365 Digital

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