McKenzie lays down the law
McKenzie lays down the lawSHARE
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie has challenged his players to reproduce the sparkling form they showed in their demolition of Argentina when they take on the world champion All Blacks on Saturday.
McKenzie, naming his line-up on Thursday, stressed Australia must build on the 54-17 pounding of the Pumas in Rosario two weeks ago, in which they scored seven tries.
"It was pleasing to see us take a step in the right direction against Argentina, but the test for us now is to produce that form week-in and week-out," he said in Queenstown, where the Wallabies have been preparing.
"At this level you need to back up, play consistently and find solutions to win every game, which has been a large focus for us heading into this match."
The Test will see Will Genia become only the third Wallaby scrumhalf to reach the 50-game milestone behind George Gregan and Nick Farr-Jones.
At the other end of the career spectrum, wing Peter Betham will make his debut in one of four changes to the team that started against Argentina after midweek injuries to fellow outside backs Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua replaces injured teammate Christian Lealiifano in the No.12 jersey.
An eye injury to Scott Fardy has forced a reshuffle among the loose forwards, with Ben McCalman earning a start in the back row and Ben Mowen moving to the blindside flank.
There are two changes on the bench, with Dave Dennis and Mike Harris called into the squad in what has so far been a disappointing year for the Wallabies, who have won only three of nine Tests.
Although there is nothing at stake on Saturday when the Wallabies face the All Blacks for the third time this year – the All Blacks won the first two matches to secure the Bledisloe Cup – McKenzie said his squad relished the challenge.
"The All Blacks are the most consistent team in world rugby and their record proves just how formidable they are when playing at home in front of their fans," he said.
"History indicates that playing the All Blacks is a significant challenge, but you want to be measuring yourself against the best-performing teams in the world and we are very much looking forward to that on Saturday."