Coach Dave Rennie has stated “never say never” to the prospect of leaving Glasgow Warriors early and becoming the new coach of Australia after the Rugby World Cup in November.
The Kiwi did describe reports linking him as favourite to replace current Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as “speculation” and “unlikely” but refused to 100 per cent rule out the possibility.
“You never say never do you?” responded Rennie yesterday when questioned about reports in the Australian media which have him as frontrunner for the job.
He added: “But what I’ve said is I’m assuming that like a lot of teams they’ll probably make changes in coaches immediately after the World Cup. That’s November 2019. I’m committed here until July 2020, so that’s what I’m saying, it’s unlikely.”
Rennie, who took over from Gregor Townsend at Scotstoun in the summer of 2017, has signed a one-year contract extension which ends at the end of next season.
With the Six Nations over, Scott Johnson is leaving as SRU director of rugby to take up a similar post in his native Australia and the respected Sydney Morning Herald has suggested that he intends to lure some from Scotland to join him. As well as Rennie being favourite for the Wallabies job there remains speculation that national defence coach Matt Taylor is still in the ARU’s sights.
Queensland-born former Scotland A flanker Taylor was categoric when asked about the link during the Six Nations that he would be seeing out his contract until 2021.
“It’s just a bit of speculation I’d say, as often happens when there’s a potential job up for grabs, they look at the options,” continued Rennie. “I certainly haven’t spoken to anyone, it’s just a bit of speculation, but my contract takes me through until the middle of 2020.
“I’d imagine from an international point of view most of these jobs are going to be gobbled up straight after a World Cup. I knew that was probably going to be the case when I signed on for another season, so it’s just speculation.”
Rennie was speaking after naming his team to face Cheetahs at Scotstoun tonight and revealed that Calcutta Cup hero Nick Grigg will be out for weeks after injuring his ankle during the 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.
“He’s certainly going to be out for the next few weeks we think,” explained Rennie. “We’ll have a bit more clarity by Tuesday, but he’s unlikely for next week [Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens].
“I think it’s syndesmosis [high ankle sprain], so it’s disappointing. He’s defended really well at international level and I’ve been really excited for him, so it’s a frustrating injury.” On a more positive note, flanker Callum Gibbins returns to lead the side after the ankle/knee injuries he picked up in January. Rennie admitted he had one eye on next week’s daunting trip to Sarries as Glasgow look to push on in their aim to finish top of Conference A against the South African side this evening.
On his team selection, he added: “It’s a little bit about combinations and we looked at some of our Scottish boys who have had a lot of footy, while players like Zander [Fagerson] hasn’t played much at all.
“Fraser [Brown] has come off the bench [for Scotland]. It’s nice to have these boys in. We haven’t really talked about Saracens but they are in the back of our mind and our planning but we are really happy with the side we have on the park.”
Another Twickenham star, Sam Johnson, is rested and Adam Hastings is on the bench as Pete Horne starts at stand-off. Rennie remains very hopeful that Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg could be back in contention for the big European game. “He’s not quite right but we are fairly confident he’ll be available next week,” he said.
Back to the job in hand, Rennie said it was important that his side, who are being chased by Munster, push to finish top and seal another home semi-final.
“Clearly that’s what we want to do but the tough run is really good for us,” he said. “This time last year we were 20 points clear and there was not a lot of edge about what we could do I suppose. The previous three games we played apart from Zebre were third in our conference and us getting points has increased the gap between us.
“We have some tough games going into the play-offs which is good for us. We’re excited by that and if we’re good enough we’ll qualify top. If not we will still be in the mix somewhere.”