Wallaby pack have plenty to prove

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:42
Large james horwill ball Large james horwill wallabies loo

Wallabies captain James Horwill wants his forward pack to make a big statement on their year-end tour of Europe.

Wallabies captain James Horwill wants his forward pack to make a big statement on their year-end tour of Europe.

Australia have endured a rough start to coach Ewen McKenzie's tenure, with two victories over the winless Pumas all they have to show from their Rugby Championship campaign, so they will feel they have something to prove on their trip up north.

The Wallabies have been exposed up front in recent times, and Horwill knows that his team face another massive challenge in the tight exchanges as they prepare to face England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

The experienced lock told the Sydney Morning Herald that his side face a major set-piece test in what are likely to be difficult conditions in the next few weeks.

"The northern hemisphere is always a big forward-oriented game and if you can set the platform for our backs then that goes a long way to winning a game.

"The weather conditions may come into play up there at this time of year, so it could completely change the way the game is played if it is raining and windy. We'll need to be able to adapt but it is a big opportunity for us, a chance to stake a good claim for your reputation as a good forward pack," he said.

The Wallabies have been put under pressure at scrum-time this year, so they know that they will need to make a major step-up in this area if they are to finish the season on a high.

One factor which may work in their favour is that their opposition do not have as much experience of the new scrum laws, although Horwill was wary of claiming that as an advantage, explaining that the referees are likely to have a major influence in that area.

"It depends on what the referees are looking for," he said. "Early on when the [changes] first came in [the International Rugby Board] weren't exactly sure what they were looking for initially.

"I think they've got to where they want to be now and what they want the referees to look for, so we'll just work within that mandate," he said.

The Wallabies skipper said that after their difficulties this season, it will be good for the team to get away on an extended tour and focus on developing their game.

"This trip is going to be really good for this group. Five weeks away, we can eliminate distractions on the outside and just focus on trying to mould the group together and work hard on and off the field," he said.

Looking ahead to the match against England at Twickenham on Saturday, Horwill said that they will ask different questions of his side, and admitted that there will be a heavy focus on their set-pieces in the build-up this week.

"[England] play a bit different to New Zealand and South Africa. They're not as hard on at the breakdown but they're very set-piece focused. They look to get ascendancy at the scrum and line-out, they work very hard on that, like most northern hemisphere teams do," he said.