Campese: players must take some blame

Darren Walton
David Campese says the current players need to accept some responsibility for the team's slump

World Cup-winning legend David Campese believes Rugby Australia would be panicking if it gambled on an overseas replacement for beleaguered Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Insisting it's too late for a coaching upheaval less than 10 months out from the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Campese says Australia's under-performing players must also bear some blame for the Wallabies losing 11 of their past 15 Tests.

"This is the problem: you can't blame a coach. Players play," Campese said on Friday.

"The coaches give you skills. It's up to the players to go out and play the game.

"There's a lot of talk about coaches, especially, today but why do we panic and look for an overseas coach straight away?

"New Zealand don't, South Africa don't."

One of the most gifted attacking players in Australian rugby history, Campese said watching the Wallabies slump to a 37-18 season-ending loss to England at Twickenham last weekend was dreadful.

"I was actually there unfortunately," he said.

"Very frustrating. I was there at the Wales game (two weeks before) thinking about 1984 when we played there and watching and it just didn't look like they were interested to play.

"For me, two teams didn't want to lose. It looks like they were just going through the motions."

The flamboyant former winger lamented how the Wallabies had become robotic.

"I might get into trouble here but i think it started with Rod Macqueen because he was a very, very structured coach," Campese said.

"Winning was great, but we actually forgot where we came from.

"We've always got to back to the grassroots before we go forward. You can't always keep going to the top and now we're in a position where all our players are the same.

"We used to have eight Kurtley Beales, we had the Ellas, we had Lloyd Walker, we had Michael Lynagh, the Horans. We had all those guys who could create things now we haven't got that because the system hasn't worked properly.

"Our kids can't catch and pass. It's very scary."

Campese, who now works in a coaching development role for Rugby Australia after moving back home this year from South Africa, said he had offered to help his former Randwick teammate Cheika with some skills sessions.

But, so far, RA boss Raelene Castle has restricted the former winger's role to coaching kids and other coaches around the country.

As calls grow louder for Cheika to be sacked after the Wallabies' worst Test season in 60 years, Castle on Thursday opted against a telephone hook-up with Jake White after South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning coach offered his services.

Castle earlier this month said Cheika's job was safe but changes to his support staff could be made after Rugby Australia's December 10 board meeting and full review of 2018.