Now Wallabies target Bok scrums
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:05
Australia will focus on improving their scrums ahead of their Rugby Championship showdown with South African next week.
The Wallabies, following their humiliating 20-51 loss to the All Blacks last Saturday, host the Springboks in Perth on September 6.
Despite the Boks' underwhelming showing in the opening rounds - slip-sliding to a 13-6 win over Argentina in monsoon-like conditions and Pretoria, followed by a fortuitous come-from-behind win (33-31) in Salta a week later - Wallaby set piece coach Andrew Blades still regards the Boks as "very physical" specimens.
Despite South Africa's set-piece problems - they were shunted backwards repeatedly, 10 metres at one stage, by the Pumas - Blades felt that Australia need to work hard on their scrums, as the Boks are likely to improve in that department.
The former Test prop, Blades, felt the always heavily scrutinised Australian scrum had generally performed well this season, apart from struggling against the All Blacks in Auckland when lock Rob Simmons was sin-binned and hooker Nathan Charles was injured.
"Very strong scrums, two massive sides especially in the forwards," Blades told AAP, when asked about the Wallabies' next two opponents - the Boks, next Saturday, and the Pumas, a week later.
"Two very physical sides around the breakdown and that will be the biggest challenge.
"They challenge every breakdown and the Springboks have people at every breakdown trying to mess things up.
"It's going to be a huge physical challenge for us and we've got to be up for it."
Blades felt Australia were too passive in the contact areas in Auckland and needed to rediscover the physicality they displayed during their eight-match unbeaten run prior to last weekend's loss.
"I think we dropped down our level of physicality which we had in the first Test [against New Zealand]," Blades said.
"Our line speed wasn't as good, our maul defence wasn't as aggressive as it had been. Those areas of the game dropped down and we paid the price for it."
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