Wallabies old dogs learn new tricks from skills guru Mick Byrne

Australia skills coach Mick Byrne. Photo / Getty Images
Australia skills coach Mick Byrne. Photo / Getty Images

Skills guru Mick Byrne has admitted it was "daunting" for him to come into the Wallabies set-up and tell veteran players to change their techniques.

Byrne, credited for developing the All Blacks' skills to unprecedented levels during their all-conquering back-to-back World Cup campaigns, was poached by Michael Cheika this year to instil the Australian players with the same high qualities under pressure.

The former AFL player was unsure how Test stalwarts like skipper Stephen Moore would react to his advice, though Byrne's influence has been apparent in recent times with the hooker adding more accurate running and passing skills to his repertoire.

"The willingness to have a go, especially some of the senior players, they've got some pretty strong belief systems that they've worked on for maybe eight or nine years and some players in the case of Stephen has played over 100 Tests," Byrne said.

"And when you come in and ask them to change a little bit of their technique it can be a bit daunting, especially when you come in during Test matches.

"But every single player has had a go, has worked hard to make those little changes to tweak their technique.

"I really believe that professional players really enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and trying to achieve new things.

"That's been the most pleasing thing, the attitude to adopt the changes."
Byrne says the plans he is implementing are coming to fruition in games, with the running and passing skills of locks Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold one highlight in the opening tour match against Wales.

"I really like to see our forwards playing rugby," Byrne said.

"Sometimes forwards get put in a box of put your head down, hit rucks, I like to see our forwards use the ball.

"They're capable of doing it, it's just sometimes they're not asked to do it.

"To see them have the willingness to throw it, and it comes down to the attitude of the players as well, two young guys out on the field really enjoying their rugby and expressing themselves, it was great to see."

- news.com.au

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