New Wallaroos coach Jay Tregonning's vision of success

Jay Tregonning isn't waiting around to make an impression as the new Wallaroos head coach, already planning and envisioning a triumphant future for his team less than a year out from the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Announced as the new coach on Tuesday, Tregonning wasted no time in his new role, calling his squad and seeking out a meeting with the Australian women's sevens coach John Manenti as he prepares to lead his team to what he hopes is a maiden World Cup title.

Despite the team's lack of preparation and drawing their fiercest rivals the Black Ferns in their opening match, the new coach isn't aiming to be conservative, he believes the team can do better than they've ever done before on the world stage and lift the World Cup trophy.

"In the chat with the girls I spoke about striving for success," Tregonning told ESPN. "Obviously we're ranked fifth in the world and we want to be competing at that level, but success is striving to win the World Cup and that's what's going to drive us throughout this short time and especially during this uncertainty and what's coming in the near future. Once we get together, we will be on the same page working towards that success.

"They're in the competitions; obviously we've got the Black Ferns in our pool and they've extended the tournament so we go through a quarter final process, which I think is just outstanding for the girls. At the end of the day we want to put our best team on the paddock and we want the girls to be able to be enjoy themselves playing footy and gelling as a team."

Hoping to hit the ground running, Tregonning introduced himself to his 40-player squad on Tuesday night through a zoom call in what has become the new COVID-normal as he looked to allay any uncertainty around the program and lay down his plan for the months ahead.

"I don't officially start with the Wallaroos role until October 1st, but I had a meeting with the girls last night over zoom, which was great being able to introduce myself and have a discussion about where we're heading in the near future," Tregonning told ESPN.

"We were talking about continuity in regards to what they've been working hard on for the last couple of years, and obviously with the limited time that we'll have before the World Cup I want to work with the girls to make sure we capitalise on the good work that's already been done with them and extend them from there.

"I don't want to reinvent the wheel with different patterns of play and throwing something that's totally foreign at them. It's obviously not going to be beneficial in regards to moving forward within a short time frame. So conversations were around that and just trying to ease any type of concern that they had about obviously new people coming in and having to learn everything totally new again.

"Obviously logistically, a lot of future games and plans and tours are still with Rugby Australia, but they're working tirelessly to try to ensure we've got some preparation, hopefully even before the end of the year or early next year, which would be good."

A well-known face for several of the veteran players in the squad including Liz Patu and Mahalia Murphy, Tregonning was part of the Wallaroos set up during the 2014 World Cup as an assistant coach and was contracted to remain with the team through to 2017, but unable to find a balance as a professional teacher and as a father to young children he stepped away from his position.

He would remain in the national fold though, taking up a position as an assistant coach of the first Australian Schools Barbarians team in 2015 and then the Australian Schools Under 18s where he was part of the coaching staff of the team that famously defeated New Zealand Schools, ending a seven-year winless drought in 2019.

It was during this time that Tregonning had the chance to work alongside some of Australia's best coaches as well as the next big stars including Noah Lolesio, Lachie Swinton and Darcy Swain and he wants to implement what he learnt during his time in the schoolboy system into the women's program.

"Honestly, I haven't got myself a massive profile out there," Tregonning told ESPN. "But I've been working away and I've been fortunate enough to work with some excellent players and some excellent coaches over the last few years.

"The Australian Schools Barbarians team that I had in 2015, we had players like Lachie Swinton and Rob Leota who just made his Wallabies debut, Len Ikitau was in that team as well and Darcy Swain; so a whole bunch of current Wallabies were in that Australia A team that I was fortunate enough to work with. I worked with young Noah [Lolesio] through Australian Schools and Angus Bell, and a lot of those other players coming through as well.

"I was fortunate enough to work with some outstanding coaches on that program as well. Everywhere I've gone in regards with teams that I've coached, I continue on my learning journey.

"In 2019 we had Peter Hewitt, who was the attack coach at the Brumbies, and then Jason Gilmore, who was the Australian Under 20s coach at the time and is now the Waratahs defence coach as the other assistants. I learned a lot from them, they have a lot of similar processes to me in regards to bringing your team together and making a team gel within a short period of time, and the boys really got along fantastically with each other, they trained hard and enjoyed their time together and the success came.

"What Jason brought to that team defensively was outstanding and I think basing a game play off a very confident defence enables you to be a bit more creative in attack. There are definitely things from around that time that I hope to bring from those guys."

With just 12 months until the Wallaroos kick off their World Cup campaign against the Black Ferns in Auckland, Tregonning has little time to get the Wallaroos preparations back on track.

Without a Test match since 2019, the Wallaroos took a hit when the Super W season was truncated into a three-week fixture and the Western Force were forced to drop out due to COVID, before their preparations were almost knocked completely off the rails when their coach Dwayne Nestor and his assistant Matt Tink resigned after unsavoury comments made during Super W about referees and players were accidentally uploaded to a portal heard by players and staff.

Now with a coach signed on and discussions around a possible Test match with New Zealand before the end of the year, the Wallaroos appear to be getting back on track and the focus now completely on the World Cup.

While the setting around his call up has been unusual, the gameless preparation isn't a complete unknown for Tregonning and some of the Wallaroos players with the 2014 World Cup squad heading to the United Kingdom without playing a Test match in four years. They'd go on to win two pool matches and finish sixth.

"They've been working hard for a number of months with a lot of uncertainties around the program so I think they were very happy that something is locked in, putting a bit of a face to the name and then outlining where we're going from here," Tregonning said.

"Already the feeling is good, the conversations were good and some good questions were raised about the program, and I talked about the style of coaching and my thoughts on certain things. I had some really good discussions there with the girls.

"We'll see what happens with the results when we get there, but it's definitely something that we're going to be aiming for, to win the next World Cup, we're not planning for the one after."