Super Rugby Pacific: New Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt starting from scratch with team selections

New Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt admits his depth chart is a blank canvas, as he begins to resurrect a programme that failed to progress from World Cup poolplay in France last year.

The former Ireland head coach helped the All Blacks to the World Cup final against South Africa, but has taken on the challenge of rebuilding an Australian team left in tatters by Eddie Jones' misguided efforts.

That task has picked up some urgency with the start of Super Rugby Pacific, with Schmidt actively scouting the talent at his disposal. Unlike his predecessor, whose notes were notoriously leaked publicly last season, the newcomer admits he has an open mind - out of necessity.

Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones' notorious 2023 form chart.
Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones' notorious 2023 form chart. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's nice and blank, and it's a little bit dauntingly blank, because you like to have a little bit of continuity," he told Stan Sport. "I'm sure there will be some continuity, but at the same time, we've got to take a big step from where things finished up at the World Cup.

"Some of what I've seen this weekend is part of that. I'm not penciling names in, but I'm certainly taking notice and there are some guys that have gone really well."

Schmidt would have been impressed with the form of NSW Waratahs players who stunned the defending champion Crusaders at Melbourne, especially first-five Tane Edmed, who slipped out of Jones' World Cup calculations through injury and form.

"I thought he was a really good balance of efficiency and enterprise," said Schmidt. "I thought his clearing kicks were nice and long and accurate.

"He's been a really good influence around the game... but there are guys like [lock Hugh Sinclair] and others, who are unsung guys, who have done really well tonight as well.

"We saw some on both sides of the ball in the Force-Rebels game last night."

Schmidt has already spent time building relationships with the five Australian franchise coaches and has also prioritised recruiting "some other eyes".

"I know it's never a one-man job, when you're trying to lead a group, and the group themselves have to give a fair bit of that. That was one of the reasons I caught up with the Super Rugby captains and that was profitable, just to get some ideas from them."

This weekend's 'Super Round' has brought together all 12 teams from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, with new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson and his staff also in attendance at AAMI Park. 

Join Newshub at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the Chiefs v Brumbies Super Rugby Pacific clash