Tregonning excited by Jones partnership as they build for the future

Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 5:17 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Wallaroos have kickstarted their 'Road to New Zealand' with a 36-19 victory over Fijiana.

Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning is looking forward to the prospect of linking up with Eddie Jones ahead of an expanded International season.

Tregonning was re-signed as Wallaroos coach for another year after guiding them to the quarter-finals at Rugby World Cup 2021.

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“We’ve still got a fair bit of improvement to do even though we’ve come a long way,” Tregonning told reporters.

“We’re definitely looking at some of the areas that have continued to be focus areas for the Wallaroos in terms of improvement. 

“There’s plenty of fuel left in the fire for improvement for the Wallaroos for sure.”

Tregonning will sit down with Wallabies counterpart Jones on Saturday ahead of the Waratahs and Reds Super W and Super Rugby Pacific trials, with the returning Jones set to 'oversee' the Wallaroos program after his appointment last month.

“Any time you get the chance to work with someone with that experience is outstanding and I welcome the opportunity to not only help improve the players but help improve the coaches and the performance on the field,” he said.

“Having that opportunity to work with Eddie (Jones) with all that international experience especially with working with the programming and the planning is going to be outstanding for myself.”

"It's an overseeing role working with the coaches," Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos explained when pressed on Jones' invovlement in the Wallaroos.

"...He's got a huge amount of knowledge and understanding across the programs and I think it's a valuable resource. Understanding the coaching age of our coaches, when I say the coaching age in terms of their coaching experience right across Super Rugby and the Wallabies and Wallaroos, having that experience and being able to lean on that is only going to be beneficial for the overall rugby ecosystem."

2023 shapes as a crucial year for the Wallaroos, with RA confirming they will face Fijiana before the Pacific Four later in the year.

The top three from that competition will then qualify for the top division of the inaugural WXV competition, facing the top three from the Six Nations.

The Wallaroos finished the 2022 edition of the tournament in fourth, with Tregonning targetting the tournament as they look to build on a season where 19 players made their International debuts.

“Having the WXV 1 and 2 are going to be outstanding competitive competitions," he believes.

“We want to improve on where we were last year and doing that, we’re beating a couple of teams in the Pac Four and then that sets us up to go into the top WXV.

“That’s definitely the goal for us. Understanding if circumstances don’t allow that, that WXV 2 competition will be an outstanding experience for the players and the development of the program.

“…We’ve got the opportunity to play against the current world champions a couple of times. The Wallaroos have never beaten the Black Ferns and that remains a goal as well. To improve on performances next year, winning a couple of Pac Four games to get into WXV is important for us.”

The Wallaroos have several players currently plying their trade overseas, with the likes of Arabella McKenzie, Emily Chancellor, Lori Cramer and Kaitlan Leaney playing in the English Premiership.

Rugby Australia officials have confirmed they will be available for the Pacific Four and WXV, providing they do not sign a further deal for the 2024 season.

“We’ve had brief discussions about that,” Tregonning said on the issue of overseas players. “They went over there fully aware of the possibility regarding selection policy and requirement. 

“It’s fortunate there are a few girls returning during that Six Nations window over there and playing some Super W. There will be some discussions had around those girls and the ones that go back.

“(The overseas policy) is something we’ll discuss heading forward.”

Tregonning also confirmed they will continue to work with their Sevens counterparts after they utilised the likes of Bienne Terita and Sharni Williams, with players potentially available for the back half of the year.

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