Skills Focus for the Wallabies Courtesy of Mick Byrne

Dublin , Ireland - 22 November 2016; Australia skills coach Mick Byrne during their rugby squad training session at the RDS Arena, Ballabridge, Dublin. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Qantas Wallabies will kick of their 2017 International season in Melbourne against Fiji. A side brimming with handling skills thanks to their nations Sevens roots. Mick Byrne, the Wallabies Skills Coach, won’t be underestimating his opponents. Indeed, he is more focused on a holistic skill approach for his own players and suggested an insight that many inside the game at all levels such take note of.

Spaces not Faces

Mick Byrne returned to the Wallabies fold in 2016 after being part of an All Blacks coaching set up that saw them reach their current status. Now with his focus on helping to develop an Australian side to compete with his former employers, he noted one area of intrigue in terms of the modern game. That being the movement especially with younger players to winning the contact area rather than aiming to avoid it. When questioned about players looking for contact Byrne suggested;

 Whoever invented the hit shields are probably responsible for that.

An interesting take on why so many players have begun to aim for contact rather than evasion as a means of scoring or gaining metres.

Relaxed Atmosphere Ahead of Fiji Test

Ahead of their first Test of 2017, there was a relaxed atmosphere at the Wallabies Captain’s run as they look to improve on a poor 2016. A game of touch rugby was the order of the day as the players settled into their AAMI Park surroundings before taking on the Fijians. There was plenty of silky hands on show in the short game but Byrne wasn’t taking credit for the game;

Yeah, I can’t claim as my idea, but I’m very impressed that we do it.

The fact that no player in the squad looked out of place with the ball in hand was testament to the attack work that Byrne has been doing. It remains to be seen if it can be transferred to the Test arena but it was definitely a positive to see the Wallabies enjoying having the ball in hand and looking to attack.

Arvo Test Rugby

Much of the marketing surrounding the Wallabies June Tests has focused on their family friendly 3pm kick off times. They will be hoping that this brings in the crowds as they face Fiji, Scotland and Italy. Realistically these are all very much winnable games to help kick life into Australian Rugby that has had plenty of negatives in 2017 so far with the Super Rugby fiasco. Michael Cheika has selected an intriguing combination of youth and experience for these Tests as Australia begin to look forward to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mick Byrne has done his part in the build-up on the training paddock, it’s now down to the men in gold to show some skills on the pitch.

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