Wallabies turn to SA-born prop to turn their scrum into a weapon

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Australia coach Dave Rennie has turned to South African-born Petrus du Plessis to help turn the Wallabies scrum into the biggest weapon in world rugby.

Two months after being appointed as the Wallabies' scrum coach, Du Plessis finally met up with the Wallabies squad this past weekend after being released from mandatory quarantine.

Up until then, the 39-year-old former Saracens and Glasgow prop had been forced to coach from behind his computer.

"Quarantined for two weeks and then I got released on the morning of the game," Du Plessis said, as quoted by the Rugby.com.au website.

"It was a big day at the office. My first day. But I've been obviously working a lot with the front rowers remotely.

"I'm probably the first international coach to coach via Zoom but I've enjoyed that and the boys have taken that really well. When I got here it was a quick handshake and off we went, get ready for the game."

Du Plessis, who is a qualified physiotherapist, was one of the outstanding front-rowers of the past decade in the English Premiership.

He played 158 matches for Saracens between 2010-2017, before moving to London Irish and then Glasgow Warriors where he played under Rennie.

After hanging up the boots last season, his transition into coaching was seamless.

In his final season at Glasgow, he was a player-coach under Rennie.

"I played eight years at Saracens, two at London Irish and two at Glasgow Warriors with Dave Rennie," Du Plessis told reporters.

"In that time, I've learned the dark arts the hard way. And the best possible way. I've worked with some unbelievable players and mentored and coached quite a few unbelievable players. Guys you'd see in the England and South Africa set-up.

"I obviously then did a lot with Scotland and Glasgow Warriors. The coaching craft was always there, the mentoring side and the playing side finished in January."

He has now been tasked to turn the Wallabies scrum into a weapon.

"The Wallabies scrum has always been there or thereabouts. They didn't have a bad World Cup campaign. But I suppose, some people might say the scrum was just a restart of set piece.

"The thing we want to change is, we want to make the scrum a weapon, so we can decide whether we attack or not and we can manipulate the opposition. That's the main thing, for me.

"The talent we've got at the minute is good enough to possibly have one of the best scrums in the world, I believe. Looking at what talent we have, I'm pretty sure we've made good strides. The first game - you're always going to have a bit of ref interpretation in regards to free kicks. The second Bledisloe we came away with the rub of the green and then we had 100 per cent ball in the last two games."

Saturday's Wallabies-All Blacks Test in Brisbane is scheduled for 10:45 (SA time).

Teams:

Australia

15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Folau Fainga'a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe

Substitutes: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Cullen Grace, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Will Jordan

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