Wallabies coach Dave Rennie must unearth four champions to accompany Jordan Petaia in trophy search

Dave Rennie needs to unearth five world-beaters in the next four years.

Without that, he won’t win the Bledisloe Cup or the World Cup.

In his quest to find the quintet of matchwinners, he is ruthlessly punishing every mistake made by his Wallabies squad members, in order to create a culture of unrelenting excellence.

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Rennie makes no apologies for yet another team upheaval

Plan B: The simple rules Wallabies must follow in rebuild

At present, Rennie has one genuine global superstar in his Wallabies squad; Jordan Petaia. If the young centre’s body holds up, he will be Australia’s 2023 World Cup linchpin.

The other four? That’s unclear.

Rennie won three successive under-20s World Cups with New Zealand, from 2008-10, though had a mountain of talent at his disposal.

It isn’t so with the Wallabies, but nor was it the case when he took charge of the Chiefs in 2012, one year after they’d finished 10th in Super Rugby.

What Rennie did successfully to lead them to back-to-back premierships in 2012-13 was bring through rising champions, while reinvigorating proven performers, and squeezing the best out of players who had been left on the scrap heap by others.

In 2009, a young Aaron Cruden helped the New Zealand under-20s win the World Cup under Rennie. While he’d make his Test debut the following year, Cruden was floundering at the Hurricanes.

Rennie signed him for 2012.

He also signed a proven performer, Sonny Bill Williams, from the Crusaders.

Williams had played in the Super Rugby final in 2011 alongside Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read. Few expected that he, and not the legendary trio, would be holding aloft the trophy in 2012.

Cruden and Williams carried the Chiefs backline for their maiden premiership.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without a dominant forward pack.

Rennie had an established champion at his disposal in Liam Messam.

He was then able to cultivate two youngsters, Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick, into competition-leading stars.

Cane and Rettalick, members of New Zealand’s 2011 under-20s World Cup-winning side, stepped up to Super level with ease.

So, Rennie had his big five; Cruden, Williams, Messam, Cane and Rettalick.

Around them, the squad thrived.

Grizzled lock Craig Clarke was made co-captain alongside Messam, allowing the dynamic backrower to lead with his deeds while Clarke was measured in his communication with referees.

The unlikely championship front row was Sona Taumalolo, Mahonri Schwalger and Ben Tameifuna. You couldn’t have given them away to other Kiwi franchises before 2012, with questions about their weight, work ethic and ability under pressure answered comprehensively under Rennie’s tutelage.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence to see James Slipper, playing his 100th Test on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in the dead-rubber fourth Bledisloe Cup Test, thriving in the Wallabies’ No.1 jersey.

Slipper was second-fiddle to Scott Sio in the Brumbies, yet has started every Test under Rennie.

After Sio missed a tackle on Jordie Barrett off the bench last week, leading to the All Blacks’ final try in their record 43-5 win, he’s been dropped from the squad altogether.

“We’ve been trying to put a bit of pressure on Scotty to bring more impact off the bench, through carry, through defence, he’s been scrummaging pretty well,” Rennie said.

“(The Barrett missed tackle) was more about urgency to connect with defenders around him, and he was slow to come forward and got exposed. It was a tough lesson.

“Belly’s been applying a lot of pressure, and we’re asking for more from some of those experienced boys. Scott’s paid the price this week.

“Having said that, it’s the best training week he’s had; carried really well, defended really well, so it’s helped create a little bit of edge around his game, which is what we’ve been looking for, for the past month.”

Rennie also indicated that had Dane Haylett-Petty not succumbed to injury, error-prone winger Filipo Daugunu would also have been left of the 23.

“Filipo needs to treasure the ball a lot more, the consequence of that is him being on the bench,” Rennie said.

And, without saying it in black and white, Rennie explained why replacement hooker Jordan Uelese has been replaced on the bench this week by Folau Fainga’a.

“We defended really well after halftime for about 25, 30 minutes, we’d defend well for five or six phases, get a penalty, get down there, turn it over immediately,” Rennie said.

“That cycle happened three or four times, and eventually the All Blacks kicked a penalty and then punished us from a turnover on the lineout in the 70th minute, so they’re tough lessons.”

So this weekend Lachlan Swinton, Tom Wright and Angus Bell get first chances.

Daugunu and Noah Lolesio get second chances off the bench.

Fainga’a, Liam Wright and Tom Banks get chances for redemption.

Reece Hodge and Hunter Paisami get chances in new positions.

Around them, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Matt Philip, Nic White and Marika Koroibete must step up from consistent to proven performers.

Among this team, and those in the wider squad, four must join Petaia as capable of being named in any World XV.

They won’t scale that height anytime soon.

But Saturday gives an opportunity for some to take that first step.

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Archaeologists in Egypt unearth dozens of unopened coffins buried more than 2,500 years ago

Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed more than two dozen ancient coffins in a vast necropolis south of Cairo.

The sarcophagi have remained unopened since they were buried more than 2,500 years ago near the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, said Neveine el-Arif, a spokeswomen for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said on Monday.

She said 13 coffins were found earlier this month in a newly discovered, 11 metre-deep well, and that 14 more were found last week in another well.

Footage shared by the Ministry showed colourful sarcophagi decorated with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as other artefacts they said were found in the two wells.


The Saqqara plateau hosted at least 11 pyramids, including the Step Pyramid, along with hundreds of tombs of ancient officials, ranging from the 1st Dynasty (2920 BC-2770 BC) to the Coptic period (395-642).

Archaeologists were still working to determine the origins of the coffins, Ms el-Arif said, adding that more details and “secrets” would likely be announced next month.

In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in an effort to revive its key tourism sector by attracting more tourists to the country.

Ms el-Arif said further excavations were underway in the necropolis, and more coffins were expected to be found.

The dozens of coffins were found in a UNESCO heritage listed site.(AP: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)

Last year, archaeologists found a cache at Saqqara that included hundreds of mummified animals, birds and crocodiles, as well as two mummified lion cubs.

The Saqqara plateau is part of the necropolis of Egypt’s ancient city of Memphis, that also include Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh and the famed Giza Pyramids.

The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1970s.

In October 2019, archaeologists unearthed 30 ancient wooden coffins with inscriptions and paintings in the southern city of Luxor.

The Luxor coffins were moved to be showcased at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which Egypt is building near the Giza Pyramids.

Egypt’s key tourism sector has suffered from years of political turmoil and violence following the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, and the sector was dealt a further blow this year by the global coronavirus pandemic.


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Cricket umpire Michael Gough spills on Aaron Finch scheme to unearth wicket of Virat Kohli

Cricket umpire Michael Gough has revealed the moment Australian one-day captain Aaron Finch cheekily sought advice during an international match in January.

Gough was standing alongside Finch at square leg during Australia’s third ODI against India at Bengaluru with the series tied at 1-1.

Defending a modest first innings total of 286/9, the Australian bowlers were desperate to remove dangermen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early. However, the Indian pair accumulated 137 for the second wicket, all but ending the visitors’ hopes of victory.

The hosts went on to reach the target with 15 deliveries remaining, and Sharma brought up his 29th ODI century.

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Speaking to Wisden Cricket Monthly, Gough recalled when Finch sheepishly asked if the former first-class cricketer had any insight on how to muster a wicket.

“I remember a match between India and Australia, and Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were putting on a huge partnership,” Gough said.

“I was stood next to Aaron Finch at square leg, and he said to me, during the game, how it was unbelievable to watch these two great players.

“Then he asked me how I would bowl at them. I looked at him and said, ‘I’ve got enough on my plate, you’re on your own there!’”

Kohli and Sharma are arguably the greatest one-day batting partnership in history, and the stats prove why.

No two batsmen boast a higher ODI average at the crease together — in 80 innings, the Indian duo have managed 33 partnerships larger than 50.


Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma (IND) — 65.04

Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (IND) — 62.57

Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson (NZL) — 57.75

MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina (IND) — 56.90

AB de Villiers, JP Duminy (RSA) — 55.37

* Minimum 50 innings

Sharma broke countless records at last year’s Cricket World Cup — in nine innings, the explosive opener struck 648 runs in nine innings at an average of 81.00. He is the only cricketer to muster five centuries during an single World Cup tournament.

Meanwhile, Kohli is slowly establishing himself as the most formidable short-format batsman in the sport’s history. With plenty of time remaining in his international career, the 31-year-old is second only to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for most ODI centuries. His ODI career batting average of 59.33 is nothing short of remarkable.

Finch could therefore be excused for his desperate midgame ploy to seek advice on how to dismiss the dynamic duo.

If coronavirus restrictions do not intervene, Australia will face India in eight Test matches over the coming 12 months. Middle-order batsman Matthew Wade spoke to reporters this week about how the squad plans to overcome Kohli, who has scored seven Test centuries against Australia.

“They’re a hard team, they use it (sledging) to their advantage very well. Virat is very clever the way he uses his words or his body language. So they use it as an advantage now. To be honest, I don’t really want to engage too much into that,” Wade said.

“I know that they thrive off that energy that comes between two players. They’re probably as good at doing that as anyone in the world at the moment, so it’s something I might stay away from this time.”

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