Wallabies have shed 'clueless' tag

Thu, 14 Nov 2013 11:45
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They know where they're going

Ewen McKenzie received the best complement since taking over from Robbie Deans - the Wallabies are no longer clueless.

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney may not have intended to insult the former Australian mentor, Deans, but his comments ahead of Saturday's encounter between the Wallabies and Irish were as much a put-down of Deans as it was a compliment for McKenzie.

Kearney based his remarks on the British and Irish Lions's 2-1 series win over Australia in June and July - which was Dean's last act as Wallaby mentor.

And even though McKenzie has won just three of his nine Tests in charge - two against Argentina and last week's victory against Italy - Kearney believes that they have made plenty of progress and are a more cohesive outfit now.

"I think they've changed a huge amount. I thought during the Lions tour they were pretty poor," he said.

"They've got a lot of new players in, and the style of their play is very different, too; there seems to be a little bit more direction.

"They know where they're going. I think during the mid-year Tests they were a little bit guilty of not really having a clue where they were going next and what they were doing."

Australia may have been some way short of their best during the Lions tour, but they still won the second Test and pushed Warren Gatland's side close on the first outing.

Their Rugby Championship form was poor, but started to come good at the end and Kearney admits that even a disjointed Wallaby unit remains dangerous.

"They were a team under pressure," he recalled.

"At the same time you got a sense of, 'If you let these guys play and you leave them in a game, they are still well able to hang in there'.

"Even though they were playing poorly in those first two Tests, they could still easily have won them. In that third Test the Lions probably put their best performance together and came away with a pretty easy victory, but you could still see that Australia had a lot of raw talent.

"Raw talent does keep you in games even if you don't necessarily have that coaching structure behind you."