Dave Rennie’s dual role as head coach of Glasgow Warriors and coach-to-be of the Australia international team will mean some late nights, but he vowed the primary focus will be on his current job until May.
Rennie accepted the post as head coach of the Wallabies earlier this week but part of the deal is that he saw out his contract at the Warriors, and hopefully see them to some success before he departs in May.
“It’s good that it’s out there now, there’s been speculation for a long time and now I can focus on Glasgow,” he said, before leaving for Exeter and this weekend’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup game against the Chiefs.
“I’ve said from the start that I’d made a commitment here at Glasgow so it was important to me to see it out. I know there’s situations where other coaches maybe jumped for something better or greener grass but it was important to me to see this out and Australia understood that.”
Dealing with both jobs – he’ll be overseeing some things for Australia immediately – is helped by timezones.
“With the time difference, it actually works out pretty well, as I discovered before I came to Glasgow,” he said. “I’ll get all my Glasgow work done and then you can jump on a call at 10pm and get some planning done with the guys who are on the ground over there.
“We’ve talked about support staff – a number of them come to the end of their contracts along with Michael Cheika. There’s been a full review going on and Scott Johnson has been over there so I’ve been quizzing him about who is worth keeping and extending and what changes we need to make.
“There’s been talk about coaches coming in and that’s the process we need to go through so hopefully we’ll make an announcement soon. It’s important we have a strong Australian flavor in there, and that’s important because I’ll be here (in Glasgow) for another 7 months.”
In the meantime, there’s the little matter of the game against Exeter at Sandy Park and with both sides having won their pool openers, the victor is going to be in a very strong position.
“They’re a good side, you have to be to win with a bonus point in France,” said Rennie. “We got one against Lyon last year, but it’s still probably rare. That was the best Exeter has played this year, and they’ve got a number of their World Cup boys back now.
“Them getting a bonus doesn’t really change anything for us. I’m not even worried about bonus points – if we can win down there we’ll come back on eight points and that will be great for us. But we know we’re going to have to really play there.”
Rennie has made only one, enforced change to the team that beat Sale at Scotstoun last week, with Callum Gibbins absent because of a shoulder injury sustained on the very last phase of play, and Chris Fusaro comes in.
The match has a special significance with the early reunion with Stuart Hogg, now with the Chiefs.
“He’s a good man, and we love him,” said Rennie. “He had a pretty good run with us and showed his class many times. It’s ironic that we end up in the same pool straightaway. We know a lot about him and we know we’ll have to be pretty sharp to nullify him.
“We’re going to have to do a good job on Hoggy and limit his opportunities. He’s got a really good skill set – his ability to distribute and kick well, and create opportunities for others.
“We’ll throw everything at them and we’ve got a game that we think can challenge them. We showed last week that we’ve got a pack that can compete with the best, so that’s going to be important.
“They’re another level up in regards to set piece, so we’ll have to be really good there. They’re pretty good at building pressure and hanging on to ball for long periods of time and we’re going to have to win the kicking battles.
“We’ve always had aspirations to go as deep in this competition as we can, so we’re desperate to get into the play-off stages and then you’re only a couple of games from playing in the final. This is the hard part – trying to qualify and get out of your group.”
Glasgow team: Tommy Seymour; Ratu Tagive, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson; Rob Harley, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson (capt), Chris Fusaro, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, D’Arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Tom Gordon, Ali Price, Pete Horne, Kyle Steyn.