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Wallabies' skill revolution excites Byrne

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/11/2016 Joe Barton

A revolution is under way at the Wallabies to turn the team's pigs into playmakers and, while the work of skills coach Mick Byrne is already delivering results, he believes it's only just the beginning of a grander project.

A former AFL player, Byrne worked for 11 years as the All Blacks' skills man - a period which helped create a razzle-dazzle playing style off the back of the likes of their remarkable ball-playing hooker Dane Coles.

But having only been with the Wallabies since July, Byrne insists it's an area which takes years to perfect - and the early signs are encouraging.

"We're seeing some of the little things (come through in games)," said a cautiously excited Byrne.

"Post-game, when you sit with players, when you do skill analysis, it's really subjective.

"If people are working hard in the gym, it's pretty objective; putting another plate on the bar is easy to see.

"Sometimes when you do the analysis with skills, it's a little bit more subjective.

"There mightn't be more passes sticking but they're hitting the right part of the running line; players are running better lines; they're working really hard on all those little areas."

Byrne's influence can be seen in the double tap-on play from young locks Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold in the lead-up to Bernard Foley's impressive try in the victory against Wales.

Working with the forwards is an area which Byrne takes a particular interest in.

"I really like to see our forwards playing rugby," he said.

"Sometimes, forwards get put in a box of 'put your head down, hit rucks'. I like to see our forwards use the ball.

"They're capable of doing it - it's just sometimes they're not asked to do it."

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