The two coaches will lock horns at Murrayfield this afternoon when Scotland host the Wallabies for the first time in four years and go into the match chasing a rare hat-trick. Wins in Sydney and Edinburgh in 2017 offer Scotland the opportunity to beat Australia three times in a row for the first time in almost 40 years.
Townsend prefers to look forward rather than back and is acutely aware of the menace today’s opponents carry.
Australia may have lost Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon to their clubs in Japan but the squad has been augmented by the arrival of the hugely experienced and versatile Kurtley Beale.
The Scotland coach doesn’t expect the changes to cause too much disruption to a team battle hardened from its experiences in this year’s Rugby Championship. Australia lost their opening two games to New Zealand but stormed back to beat South Africa and Argentina twice each.
They arrive in Europe in good fettle and Townsend feels Rennie’s imprint is clear to see.
“Dave’s DNA is right throughout that team,” said the Scotland coach. “They want to play quickly and they want quick ball through the ruck. They want to be ambitious. But with the experience that he brought back in, whether that’s Quade Cooper or Nic White and Samu Kerevi, there was a Test-match experience there of knowing what to do in certain situations.
“I thought their game plan against South Africa was outstanding. They made sure that they didn’t lose any ball in their own half, but then played really good rugby, kept hold of a lot of ball, and found space in that defence. That would have given them massive confidence.
“[It’s] just evolution, the longer Dave has been there. And they’ve got some great players - they always do produce some outstanding players. And now I think people would say there’s no Kerevi or Quade Cooper, but they brought back Will Skelton, Kurtley Beale and Rory Arnold.
“So they’ve got some quality players that haven’t been available to them in the last couple of years that are now back in their squad.”