Politics

Wallaby weapon who’s ‘mad as a cut snake’


There’s a bloke in the Wallabies’ camp who is “as mad as a cut snake”, says Eddie Jones – and he evidently wishes Scott Wisemantel was still England’s very own ‘cut snake’.

Instead, Jones’ old Australian pal Wisemantel is now working his coaching wiles as Wallaby coach Dave Rennie’s assistant and, having had a foot in both camps, appears to be a key figure in the build-up to Saturday’s Test at Twickenham.

The nomadic 51-year-old played a big part in helping England reach the World Cup final in 2019 in a hugely successful 18-month stint as Jones’ popular coaching sidekick, before finding roots back home again with the Wallabies.

England’s loss – their attack has never had the fluidity it did when Wisemantel was on board as they filleted Australia in the 2019 World Cup quarters – appears to have become the rejuvenated Wallabies’ gain.

Asked about him in this week’s build-up to Sunday morning’s (AEDT) clash, Jones sounded as if he’d lost a soulmate in his surf-loving buddy, who played both codes including a spell in the NRL at Parramatta.

“He’s a great coach, an even better bloke,” enthused Jones.

“A great Australian bloke, as rough as …. I was going to use an Australian term, better not … as rough as they come.

“He’s still got his first pair of board shorts from when he was 16 and the years he comes to camp, he’s got those shorts and the same blue and white T shirt he’s had for 24 years. That sums him up.

“He just loves the game, loves the players. He’s a huge amount of enthusiasm for the game and the amount of players he’s coached and improved around the world is remarkable.

“He’s coached in Australia, Samoa, Japan, England and had an influence on all those players – and if you mention his name to any of those players, it’ll put a smile on their face.”

‘Wisey’, who would work as a bricklayer and a supply teacher back home in between his stints with England, certainly put a smile on Rennie’s face after he decided to end his wandering days and take up an offer to work full-time for the Wallabies after the World Cup in Japan.

“Everyone who’d worked with Wisey would know why we wanted to drag him back to Australia,” said Rennie this week.

“Phenomenal coach, unbelievable energy, really, really creative. With his teaching background, his ability, thirst for knowledge to develop a real strong skill acquisition, he’s got a huge amount of respect wherever he’s been and he’s been huge for our group.

‘We’re fortunate to have him.”

Wisemantel goes back a long way with Jones, who used him as a skills coach as long ago as the 2003 World Cup when he led the Wallabies to a home final.

He also covered for his stricken friend as temporary head coach for Japan when Jones was recovering from a stroke.

Wisemantel told the English Daily Telegraph this week that “I love that team (England) and I love Eddie Jones”.

But when it came to wondering if his inside knowledge on Jones and his team might help him second guess England’s plans, Wisemantel had to admit: “If I start to play mind games, I will come out second best.”

For that’s one area, he knows, where no-one beats his old mate. Wise man, that Wisemantel…



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