Wallabies coach Dave Rennie open to coaching Australia beyond 2023

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has indicated he may be interested in staying on beyond his current contract, saying the prospect of a British & Irish Lions series and then potentially the 2027 World Cup on home soil is pretty exciting.

Rennie is approaching only the 12-month mark of a three-and-a-half-year deal which began in extraordinary circumstances amid the COVID pandemic last year, and came only weeks after the departure of Raelene Castle - the former Rugby Australia boss who had worked so hard to entice him to take on the role in the first place.

But he now has a greater understanding of the challenges of the job and the unique Australian rugby ecosystem that is vastly different than what he was used to in New Zealand.

"I think so, I've done a lot of fundraiser lunches and that sort of thing at grassroots level around the country, and I think the game is alive and well at grassroots," Rennie replied when asked if he felt the Australian game was cautiously tracking in the right direction.

"Lots of passionate people and ensuring we've got a strong connection between the professional and amateur game is important.

"There's certainly been a lot of hard work done on [Wallabies] areas that we reckon are important. The conditioning, our ability to get back on our feet quickly in attack and defence, the quality of skillsets and so on.

"We've seen some really good footy, the Brumbies-Reds games have been fantastic and the final maybe not as good as the other two but still intense and absorbing.

"I think we are trending in the right place."

Rennie was on deck in Sydney on Thursday to help launch Australia's bid for the 2027 World Cup, a tournament for which the nation is the favoured tip and may yet be only among two bidders for.

Rennie's contract is due to expire after the 2023 tournament in France but given his overhaul of the Wallabies environment and proven track record of working with young players, it may be that he is asked to extend that deal further into the future.

Results, of course, will be the ultimate determining factor, particularly after the Wallabies returned only a 1-2-3 record across his first year in charge. And then there is the fact that both Brumbies boss Dan McKellar and Reds coach Brad Thorn have been pegged as future national coaches, too.

But should everything fall into place and the situation present itself, Rennie says the chance to oversee two World Cup cycles with the Wallabies could be hard to resist.

"I've always said part of my role is to try and help identify other Australian coaches and help bring them through to Super level and into this role" Rennie told ESPN. "But everything is a long way off.

"A British & Irish Lions tour is pretty exciting in '25 and a World Cup in '27. You never say never but sometimes it's not always your choice in this game.

"But I'm really enjoying what I'm doing at the moment. I've got a really good team and good people around us, so enjoying the challenge."

Rennie's immediate focus is the Wallabies' three-Test series against France in July, for which he will have full access to a squad of potentially up to 38 players for at least a fortnight and possibly longer. It will be in stark contrast to the preparation for his first Test in charge last year when the Wallabies were forced to undergo quarantine in New Zealand before Bledisloe I.

In the meantime, Rennie is hoping that last week's 5-0 New Zealand whitewash in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman was an aberration and that, the Brumbies and Reds, at least, can get some wins on the board and not see the momentum of their domestic seasons completely sucked away.

"It's a good experience because the intensity and the pace of the games lift," Rennie told ESPN. "And the teams that battled didn't get their exits right so they gave them a lot of pill back and field position.

"The two sides [Brumbies and Force] that defended pretty well, that reduced time and space, were able to stay in the game and the three sides that couldn't do that got punished.

"What you know with the Kiwi sides is they're high skill, really well conditioned and play with a real positive mindset. But they'll kick smart, too, so you need to be able to shut down that time and space to force them to kick on your terms, rather than there's, and apply pressure.

"I think there have been a lot of learnings from week one and looking forward to this round."