Laid-back Rennie hitting right note for Wallabies: Toomua

Wellington (AFP) –


Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua said Tuesday that new coach Dave Rennie's singalong skills were keeping the team relaxed ahead of the blockbuster Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand in Wellington.

Relations between Australian and Kiwi administrators have been strained in the lead-up to Sunday's match because of disputes over Rugby Championship scheduling and the future of Super Rugby.

It's a situation Rennie's famously prickly predecessor Michael Cheika may have used to motivate his players, but Toomua revealed the new boss was living up to his laid-back reputation.

"He's definitely got a few different tendencies, loves a little singalong, those type of things," Toomua told reporters when asked how the training camp had changed under Rennie.

"A lot of it's new, he just seems a very calm and composed character."

The 42-Test back expected New Zealander Rennie to maintain Wallabies' expansive, attacking style of rugby, placing an emphasis on the breakdown and seizing opportunities from broken play.

Despite Rennie naming 16 uncapped players in his squad for the two Bledisloe Tests, Toomua did not expect a slew of newcomers to be named in the starting fifteen against New Zealand.

"I don't think anyone will be disrespecting a Bledisloe and naming a team full of debutants," he said.

"But we've got to develop players and a squad for the future as well, so I'm sure it'll be a balance, a mixture of both."

Toomua said preparation had been a challenge as neither teams had played since last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"It's hard to analyse them... there's not much footage of them around," he said, revealing the clips Rennie had been playing included England's 19-7 semi-final demolition of the All Blacks at the World Cup.

New Zealand coach Ian Foster, who like Rennie was appointed after the tournament in Japan, said there was excitement at the prospect of resuming international rugby following a pandemic-induced suspension.

"We're on a pretty even footing," he said. "You've got two new coaching groups, you got people that have been waiting for a long time -- there's that desire to jump ahead and play the Test today."

Foster expected the lack of match time would be evident in the opening Test.

"Will it be rusty? Of course it will because we'll be trying new things under intense pressure and a little bit of the unknown. We can't complain about not having had time to prepare," he said.

All Black lock Sam Whitelock said he always expected a strong challenge from the Wallabies.

"They're going to be good. No matter where they're playing Super Rugby-wise, they've always shown up and given the All Blacks a hard, physical game," he said.