Wallabies coaches to run rule over players at April camp

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Dave Rennie will convene a three-day camp for prospective Wallabies on the Gold Coast next month to lay the foundations for the upcoming test season, local media reported.

The camp, starting on April 11 after the eighth round of Super Rugby AU matches, will give Rennie and his staff an early look at a wider squad before a three-test series against France slated for July.

"We didn’t want to disturb the Super Rugby coaches too much but we wanted some clarity and to talk about where we are before a very big year," Rugby Australia's director of rugby Scott Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It’s a big year when you look at the calendar. It’s a lot of quality opposition and that’s what we want.

"It’s still a developing squad on a national level."

The camp will give Rennie more time for planning compared to his first season in 2020, when the New Zealander was unable to assemble a squad until September due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That first camp came just three weeks before the season-opening match against New Zealand.

The Wallabies won only one of their six tests in 2020 but had two draws against Argentina and one against the All Blacks in Wellington.

World Rugby are yet to confirm dates for the July test window, and the southern hemisphere's annual four-nation Rugby Championship is also up in the air amid lingering travel restrictions and border controls.

Johnson said Australia still hoped a Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition could go ahead in May, though quarantine requirements in New Zealand remain a headache.

The competition, featuring home and away matches for each of Australia and New Zealand's Super Rugby sides, starts on May 14, with a championship decider on June 19.

"We want to take on the Kiwis. I want one of our teams to win Super Rugby Trans-Tasman,” Johnson said.

"We want two Australian teams in the final ... That’s the ambition."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)