Eddie Jones’ new defence coach Brett Hodgson reveals his philosophy as Australia wraps up first Test camp

The Wallabies were never going to win the World Cup during their three-day training camp on the Gold Coast. But the camp was all about embedding the structures to give themselves a chance in France later this year.

It’s why those who claimed little should be taken from Eddie Jones’ squad announcement because the playing group would change considerably by the time he announces his official team in August were off the mark.

Four years ago Michael Cheika informed the Wallabies of his new attacking plan – run from inside their own half.

Without their most potent ball-runner Israel Folau, the plan came back to bite the Wallabies on the biggest stage against Eddie’s England, who simply waited for Cheika’s men to make mistakes.

But it was during the camp in Queensland where structures were set in stone regardless of how flawed they were.

On Wednesday, after two days on the field at Sanctuary Cove where the Wallabies went hammer and tong, new defence coach Brett Hodgson revealed some of his non-negotiables after finally getting on the training paddock.

“Effort, effort,” Hodgson said was the primary message.

“You might do a first tackle but then it’s making sure that you’re looking at what’s next rather than just being happy with what you’ve done.

“We want to see plenty of effort and intent from the players.”

Assistant coach Brett Hodgson during a Wallabies training camp at Sanctuary Cove on April 18, 2023. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Effort – or work rate – has been one of the buzz words emanating out of the Wallabies, particularly Eddie Jones, since the start of the year.

The former State of Origin fullback, who was previously Hull’s head coach in rugby league before Jones sensationally brought him in for his first rugby coaching gig in the weeks before being axed as England coach, is the third Wallabies defence coach since August.

He is the latest defence minister under Jones that comes from the school of the NRL and follows Anthony Seibold and Jason Ryles.

While Hodgson said elements of defence like ruck control and locking the ball up are central to rugby league, he believes at the core of any defence is connection.

“The best defences in any sport are the ones that are most connected and willing to work hard for each other,” he said.

“You can have the best system in the world but if you’re not willing to work hard and go beyond your usual means, in terms of effort, then you’re going to struggle.”

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones at his first training camp. (Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Despite being a newcomer to the sport, Hodgson says his fingerprints will be on the defensive structure.

“There’s been elements that I’ve designed. I wanted to implement certain parts. We’ve had conversations around that,” said Hodgson, who has often been sighted alongside Jones at matches throughout the season.

“Ultimately, Eddie is the coach, so everything goes through him, which is understandable and all good. But there are certain elements that through my history of where I’ve come from that I feel I can help improve the Wallabies’ defence and [I’m] looking forward to that challenge.

“It’s very important that we implement the philosophies around our defensive system.

“The players can tackle, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s about making sure we get that connection and understand what each other is doing at certain times during the game.

“We’ve implemented a day of that. It’s going to take a long time to get to where we want to get to, but the combinations have started and we’ve progressed from day one to day two. Pretty pleased, so looking forward to seeing how that evolves.”

Hodgson has been actively getting around to all the Super Rugby franchises since being appointed to the role in late February.

The Wallabies at their first training camp under Eddie Jones at Sanctuary Cove on April 18, 2023. (Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Not that it’s always worked out in his favour.

On his first day of meeting the Australian Sevens program, a remix of Ray Warren’s commentary when he was “ragdolled” into touch by Gordon Tallis during an Origin match was played much to the amusement of all parties. For Hodgson, it was water off a duck’s back.

Approachable and articulate, Hodgson says he felt it was necessary to introduce himself to the playing group before the Wallabies’ first camp under the new coaching structure.

“I think it’s important that the players got to know me a little bit as well as myself getting to know the players before we came into camp, so that there was some sort of relationship formed,” he said.

“It was my want to get out to the clubs and get out and see the players and show them that we care and we’re looking at them and how they can continue to improve even at a club land. We respect that they’re franchise players at the moment, and we don’t want to put any gap between that, but it’s been good to get out there and actually introduce myself to the players.”

So what’s surprised him?

“Nothing’s surprised me because I knew there’d be some elite talent, which is why they’re here,” he said.

“Their willingness to adapt to what we’ve asked of them has been outstanding. From a coaching perspective, I don’t think we could have asked for much more.”

For Hodgson and for Australian rugby, everyone involved will hope there’s no big surprises later in the year. He has a very big job in front of him indeed.

Source link