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Thread: Where the Wallabies Must Improve

  1. #1
    (formerly known as Coach) Your Humble Servant Darren's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Perth, Western Australia, Australia

    Where the Wallabies Must Improve

    James Tucker asks past and present Wallabies players what Robbie Deans's men need to find on their upcoming seven-game tour of Hong Kong and Europe.

    What is the most urgent asset the Wallabies must extract from this tour of five Tests and two midweek games against Munster and Leicester?

    TOUTAI KEFU (1999 Rugby World Cup winner and Sunshine Coast grand final coach)

    I want to see this tour teach our many good young players more toughness.

    Scratch the surface and we don't have much depth in terms of tough footballers. That's where I see the midweek games being so important.

    Super rugby is about running footy. You play a Munster or Leicester side hungry for an international scalp and it's old school, every-inch-matters rugby. Guys like James Slipper, Ben Daley, Rob Simmons and Scott Higginbotham will get a helluva lot out of those games.

    WILL GENIA (Wallabies halfback)

    Consistency. It's been said many times but consistency within games and Test-to-Test is very important to us. We've faded in intensity with leads sometimes and given opponents a costly leg-up. We have to play for 80 minutes.

    DAVID NUCIFORA (Australian Rugby Union high-performance manager)

    It might sound silly but winning is really important. As a team, we have to get a consistency of winning and take out close Tests, so it becomes ingrained entering World Cup year. That confidence to win tight games is vital. We did it in Bloemfontein but not in Pretoria or Sydney in the most recent Tests.

    It's a big tour focus to play the 80, manage games and close out the tight ones.

    EWEN McKENZIE (Queensland Reds coach and 1991 Rugby World Cup-winning prop)

    The Wallabies developed a more running brand of game this season. That suits perfect conditions but it won't suit some of the wet conditions they'll encounter on this tour. The Wallabies will have to show they can be adaptable and find other ways to win because a World Cup in September-October in New Zealand next year will demand it.

    Digby Ioane, James Horwill, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stirling Mortlock and Rob Horne are still all injured. Who will give the Wallabies the biggest lift when he returns?

    Kefu: We definitely need Digby Ioane back as quickly as possible because he provides the strength and punch in traffic that no other back really does. Horwill and Polota-Nau bring a bit of toughness to the pack mix.

    Genia: Cliffy Palu at No.8 was missed massively this season. That big Tongan frame of his is just so influential off the back of the scrum. He attracts defenders when he runs, he opens up chances for others and he just nails blokes in defence.

    Nucifora: Ioane's power and presence to bust the line from nothing is something you'd be very keen for. The power ball carriers like Horwill, Tatafu and Palu are important factors.

    McKenzie: Lock James Horwill is a real rock-solid player and physical. The side will benefit from his return next year. Digby just makes things happen.

    Can the Wallabies turn the tide on that ugly streak of 10 straight losses to the All Blacks on October 30 in Hong Kong?

    Kefu: It's been disheartening to lose leads. You'd hope the boys would have learnt the lesson before now. I've seen enough good moments to think we'll get a chance to win in Honkers.

    Genia: The next big step for the Wallabies is to end the All Blacks nightmare, starting in Hong Kong. The hurt and motivation is still there from Sydney last month when we led them 22-9 .

    Nucifora: We don't want to wait until next year. The All Blacks are definitely in our sights on October 30. Once you get them once, it will make a big difference to this group.

    McKenzie: I'll go back to 1990 with the Wallabies when we broke a bad run against the All Blacks with a win in Wellington. It gave us confidence and put some doubt in their camp entering 1991 when we kicked on to win the World Cup.

    Good habits, managing refs and yellow cards starts now.

    Who were the winners out of another hot-and-cold Test year with five wins and five losses?

    Kefu: Flanker Dave Pocock was absolutely outstanding, the closest we have to a World XV player. Quade Cooper improved in bounds but still has a way to go.

    More than 30 guys played Tests. A lot are in the same boat - they can surge or be left behind. A lock like Mark Chisholm, for example, was in and out. Guys like Horwill, Dan Vickerman, Simmons and Nathan Sharpe may all go past him.

    Genia: I definitely feel the team has moved forward and embraced the way we want to play. It was summed up in Sydney against the All Blacks. Before their late tries, I felt for the first time, in my Tests against them, that we were clearly on top.

    We had control and now we have to turn doing that for 67 minutes into a full 80. For me, one of the most satisfying features was how the young front-row guys (Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley, James Slipper and Salesi Ma'afu) stepped up in June against tough teams.

    Nucifora: What we got out of a season hard hit by injuries was the advantageous result that young front-rowers, for example, were brought through quicker than they might have been. Pocock was incredibly consistent. Sharpe backed up time and again with good displays and Adam Ashley-Cooper did the same.

    No.8 Ben McCalman wasn't in calculations a year ago but he's on the way now.

    McKenzie: Clearly, James Slipper, at prop, has been there every week for nine Tests now. Saia Faingaa, at hooker, held off Stephen Moore. They are among the big plusses.

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  2. #2
    Champion Contributor jazza93's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
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    Great article. A journalist who understands that when it comes to criticism, no one cares what they think! McKenzie and Nucifora always have great input.

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