Can the Wallaby pack deliver?
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 20:21
The Wallaby pack is traditionally the team's soft underbelly, but the forwards will have to come to the party if Australia are to end New Zealand's decade-long stranglehold on the Bledisloe Cup.
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie, speaking to the media in the build-up to next week's opening Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Sydney, said the only way his star backs will be game-breakers is if the forwards do the damage first.
Top of their list of match-winners is fullback Israel Folau, with others like Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper just as dangerous.
However, McKenzie put the spotlight firmly on the forwards.
"We've got some exciting X-factor backs, but you've got to get the ball to them," he told a media scrum at the team's training base.
"I've been pleased with the efforts of the forwards, they get maligned, but I've been pleased with their ability to get quality ball to feed the backline and give us a chance to put pressure on and score points."
He also hinted that he is slowly changing little things that will make his team a lot less predictable.
"There's been a lot to work on," he added.
"Some of the parts of the job have been easier than I thought, some have been harder. I guess that's the same in every job.
"I've enjoyed the challenge, but it hasn't been easy. I was pretty adamant we needed to do some things differently to do better.
"There isn't anything that has remained untouched and the sum of that will hopefully give us better outcomes."
While New Zealand are a fearsome a prospect and go into the match at Sydney's Olympic Stadium looking for a record 18th successive win, McKenzie believes the year he has had working with the Wallabies will pay dividends.
"You don't roll into it," he said.
"But I feel better having been involved in the French series, that was a really good period for us," he said of the Wallabies' 3-0 series whitewash.
"So when we next got together, even though there's been the hurly-burly of the Super Rugby finals, the guys just dusted themselves off and got on with it.
"I think they'll feel better prepared for the challenge this year, I certainly feel better about it."
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