SYDNEY (Reuters) – Shaun Berne has joined the Wallabies coaching staff to give head coach Michael Cheika a full complement of assistants in the run-up to this year’s World Cup, the team announced on Friday.
Berne, who was most recently in charge of the backline at the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby, replaces Stephen ‘Bernie’ Larkham, who was sacked as attack coach in February having carried the can for Australia’s miserable 2018 season.
“Shaun’s a great young coach and he’s going to add new energy into how we coach the players,“ Cheika said.
“His job will be to help players achieve their top levels of play and stay at that level more consistently.”
The 40-year-old former New South Wales Waratahs and Bath back went to the same Sydney high school as Cheika and played under the now Wallabies coach at Leinster.
He started coaching with the ‘A’ team at the Irish province and was an assistant at Perth-based Super Rugby team the Western Force before moving to Melbourne.
“This is a huge opportunity for me personally but more importantly, I want to do whatever I can to make the Wallabies successful this year,” he said.
“I want to contribute to the team by focusing on the things that will serve us best when we are under pressure, like passing, catching, alignment, running lines and deception – on and off the ball.”
Daryl Gibson expressed an interest in the role after announcing he was stepping down as the Waratahs coach on Friday but the timing of Berne’s announcement suggested he was never in the running.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)