McKenzie keeps faith in Lealiifano

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 16:14
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I'm not going to judge him on one game

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie insists he has no intention of removing the kicking duties from Christian Lealiifano when his side face Wales on Saturday.

Lealiifano missed five shots at goal in Australia's 21-15 success against Scotland, making the scoreline far less convincing than it otherwise would have been for the in-form tourists.

Critics have since called for Quade Cooper to regain the responsibility from the tee after he kicked in Lealiifano's absence in the games against England, Italy and Ireland, as well as the third Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand.

But McKenzie won't be forced into a knee-jerk reaction and he has no intention of basing his evaluation of who should go for goal at the Millennium Stadium on a single showing in Edinburgh.

"Christian last week was an aberration," said McKenzie, who was quick to look at the conditions rather than lay all the blame at the door of the usually ultra-consistent Brumbies centre.

"I looked at all the kickers during the warm-up and they were all struggling with their footing on the ground.

"I'm not going to judge him on one game. He kicked some nice kicks in the game and just missed a couple. It was a frustrating night in that sense, but he's been very, very reliable for us prior to that."

The Wallabies arrived in Cardiff on the back of three straight wins in Rome, Dublin and Edinburgh and the stats seem to suggest they are a side on the up after the series defeat to the British and Irish Lions Down Under.

McKenzie is seeing improvements from his players, although there is one area of the game where he is still keen on a major change in approach.

Having suspended six players and warned nine more for consuming 'inappropriate' levels of alcohol in the week leading up to the 32-15 win over the Irish, McKenzie has again reiterated his desire to make the Wallaby set up as professional and proud as possible.

"Culture for me is really important and it's often glossed over. Culture is the glue that holds it all together. It doesn't matter if it's discipline or rewarding people, it's how we function day to day and how players and staff relate… and how we're seen," added McKenzie.

"People want to have pride in their team and make sure that everyone's on the same page. We're making the statement because we're a high-performance team that wants to go somewhere. Lots of things can affect the game itself and, in the end, if we haven't got the game none of us have a job."