Surprise role a chance for Scott Fava to realise World Cup dream

As a player, Scott Fava achieved plenty. He represented four different Super Rugby franchises, earned five Wallabies caps and represented Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the men's sevens team, but he never reached the pinnacle of the sport, the Rugby World Cup, until now.

Named as the defensive coach for the Wallaroos as they prepare for their Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand next year, Fava said it was the opportunity to realise a World Cup dream and the chance to work alongside his good mate Jay Tregonning that has him joining the coaching ranks.

"I just think it's great to get to a Rugby World Cup for me personally. I did a fair bit in my individual rugby career, but I never got to a World Cup, so it's pretty exciting," Fava told ESPN.

"Jay and I are fairly good mates, we're both from the South Coast of New South Wales. We played down there, did our time working through the local system, moved up to Sydney and played our individual rugby careers, so we've been mates for a long while.

"At the end of the day it was an opportunity to work together and I think it's going to be great."

With less than 12 months until the Wallaroos kick-off their campaign against the Black Ferns in Auckland, Fava alongside Tregonning, attack coach Sione Fukofuka and development coach Inge Visser are racing the clock to prepare their side for what will no doubt be an arduous tournament.

Still, the former Wallaby believes his strong relationship with Tregonning will give the squad a slight edge.

"I think if you have like-minded people on the same page you'll benefit. The big thing about this is we only have one year to get to where we need to get to before the Rugby World Cup and that's a difficult process, where a lot of other coaches get that through two-three-four-year preparation time.

"What we need to do and what Jay needs to have put in place needs to happen quickly and needs to happen in a short amount time. So his ability to lean on me to get it done, that's the trust we need from the coaching group.

"I know Sione, he's very much on board in relation to that ethos put across by Jay. Already I can see a really strong coaching group with Inge sitting there who's been there for the last three or four years, and she understands the group, she's going to give us a lot of great intel into what's worked in the past and what we need to do for the future to get these girls right.

"I'm really excited about the group, and there's no doubt within any coaching group trust is a major part of the team moving forward in the right direction, so I think we'll have a lot of that and a lot of fun too."

While most international teams have been playing a November Test series in Europe, including New Zealand, England, France, Japan and the USA, the Wallaroos squad has remained in Australia, separated by state borders with their last training camp for the year in December postponed until January. It rounds out a disappointing two years a squad that hasn't taken the field together since 2019.

But Fava is striving to see the positives in the Wallaroos remaining in the country.

"There's definitely a lot of rugby going on at the moment, which the girls are not partaking in, but you can also look at it from a viewpoint that you can get yourself right during this period of time individually. You can work on your own game, your skills, where you need to get to and have a really good offseason leading into the Super W season and then the World Cup.

"A lot of rugby is great, too much rugby can sort of put you on a downward spiral.

"I wasn't part of that decision process in terms of whether they should or shouldn't go overseas, but they've made the decision and we're ready to be there, back them up and help them with that individual perspective to allow them to prosper through this Super W season and then hopefully that will allow us the opportunities through the domestic Test series to get to the World Cup in the right physical and peak performance that we want to be in."

Fava, alongside Fukofuka, will meet the squad for the first time via a Zoom call next week when they'll get a chance to discuss their goals over the next 12 months and especially their aim for the World Cup.

But 45-year-old Fava already has a clear goal in mind.

"There's no doubt I'm in it to win it. That's the number one goal, go there and show the whole of Australia that they're behind us. They want success out of this group. We're ranked seven in the world, so you've got to think a minimum pass will be quarterfinals.

"I'm really so glad to be part of this and to be able to get this opportunity to work with the girls that are there within the squad and then work with the Super W teams to see what's out there, leading into this new 2022 season and develop the squad from there going into the World Cup."