Argentina

Wallabies to 'get physical' with Boks

Tue, 17 Sep 2013 09:50
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You need to give an edge to physicality in your selections
Quote-end

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie insisted his team step up the "physical" side of their game and "fight fire with fire" when they meet the Springboks in Cape Town later this month.

Australia, who have not won at Newlands since 1992, secured their first win under McKenzie's stewardship when they edged Argentina 14-13 in Perth at the weekend.

It has not been the dawn of a new age the Wallabies had preached since McKenzie replaced Robbie Deans as senior national coach.

However, the former test prop has rejecting any talk of a crisis and said he is busy plotting a first win over South Africa in Cape Town in more than two decades.

McKenzie's appointment in the wake of the British and Irish Lions series defeat provoked a wave of optimism in Australia, but that was quickly dissipated by two defeats at the hands of New Zealand and a humbling 12-38 home loss to the Springboks in Brisbane - where South Africa had not won since 1971.

McKenzie on Tuesday recalled veteran prop Benn Robinson for the Wallabies' Rugby Championship tour to South Africa and Argentina, while James Horwill was named captain in place of Ben Mowen.

Robinson, who played in the recent losing series against the British and Irish Lions and is a veteran of 59 Tests, was the major omission in new coach Ewen McKenzie's initial squad for the tournament.

However, he has been drafted in to stabilise Australia's shaky pack.

Horwill, who has missed the past two Tests, returns after recovering from a left hamstring strain, is expected to add size and nous to the forward pack.

"South Africa and Argentina are always brutal games, so you need to give an edge to physicality in your selections," McKenzie explained the recall of Robinson.

"You need to fight fire with fire to some extent and it's pretty clear that we've brought in added size as well as more experience for these next two games."

McKenzie said the tour of South Africa and Argentina would be important in terms of building confidence and a winning mentality within the group.

"I don't think anyone is going to back us to win these next two games, but there is a terrific opportunity to continue to improve and surprise a few people," he said.

"There is a good vibe in the group at the moment with some emerging confidence and experience.

"We'll go over there with a strong mindset, the right attitude and with a really good chance to finish positively in the competition."

Troubles with the scrum under the new laws have only been the most obvious of the problems for a team that has shipped 13 tries in its four Rugby Championship Tests, but McKenzie was in no mood for crisis talk.

"You can get bogged down in how people want to describe things. I want to see progress," he told a group of reporters.

"I've definitely seen progress in parts of the game. There are parts we need to do better at, there's no question about that.

"But I'm looking at other games and I'm not seeing the scrum outcomes in New Zealand-South Africa game, the first five went to penalties. You're not seeing clear outcomes anywhere.

"So, they're things we're going to keep working on, if you get a bit of stability and a bit of consistency."

So despite the recent 26-point drubbing at the hands of the Boks in Brisbane and the fact that the Wallabies have not won at Newlands since McKenzie helped them do so in 1992, he said his team would approach the September 28 fixture with confidence.

"It's not like they were way out of our league," he insisted, adding: "We're not going to go there to make up the numbers, we've put a lot of thought into the potential composition of the team and how we might go about it.

"We didn't get to the gameplan we wanted to last time and so we've still got stuff up our sleeve we haven't tried yet.

"But you've got to be able to impose yourself physically on the game, that'll be an important part of it."

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