More of the same for Wallabies at Eden Park

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014
Ewen McKenize
Getty Images
ANOTHER GO: Australia coach Ewen McKenize puts faith in same players that held the All Blacks to a draw for this weekend.

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A glut of possession and an opponent reduced to 14-men for a quarter of Sydney's Bledisloe Cup stalemate still was still insufficient to force a rare test victory over the All Blacks - yet the Wallabies who ended the world champions' 17-test winning streak have predictably been retained for their must-win rematch at Eden Park on Saturday.

Although Ewen McKenzie rued his side's lack of composure in key moments of last Saturday's 12-12 draw at a waterlogged ANZ Stadium, the Wallabies coach had no qualms about challenging the same 23-man squad to claim Australia's first test win in Auckland since 1986, and keep the Bledisloe Cup component of the Rugby Championship alive.

A week ago McKenzie surprised by selecting Kurtley Beale at first five-eighth ahead of Bernard Foley, seven days later the unveiling of an identical line-up was anticipated although Nick Phipps might have been considered for promotion after Nic White's unconvincing performance at halfback .

Rather than discuss individuals, McKenzie spoke generally of his side's need to improve if they are to become the first team to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1994, and backed them to ensure October's Bledisloe III in Brisbane is not the customary dead rubber.

"There's plenty we can fix and tidy up, we'll concentrate on that," he said, when asked if personnel changes had been contemplated.

"We're working on cohesion and teamwork, we'll focus more on getting better at working as a group.

"You have to look at the game and say 'what worked? what didn't?' Is it an issue of personnel or is it an issue in terms of composure, the weather or whatever, the cohesion through combinations.

"Out of all that I think we've got the right group of guys and I think they'll be better for the experience. That's why we didn't change anything."

However, he does expect an All Black side that was fortuitous to avoid their first loss to the Wallabies since the Tri-Nations decider at Suncorp Stadium in 2011, to pose different challenges as they seek to atone for an unusually flat performance.

"Kieran Read's already talked about (getting) back to the basics. You have to get the fundamentals right, they're talking about that," he said.

"We know from the first minute of the game they're going to come hard through the forwards. They'll be taking (us) on at the set piece in terms of pick and drive, trying to impose themselves and trying to get on the front foot.

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"We need to be ready for that. There's going to be another level of physicality up front, we have to be ready for that. It'll be another level but that's what you expect."

A former World Cup-winning prop, McKenzie was an interested observer when this weekend's referee Romain Poite controlled the third British and Irish Lions test in Sydney last year - a defeat that ended the tenure of predecessor Robbie Deans.

The Frenchman - who was an assistant referee last Saturday - only needed one engagement to decide the Lions had the dominant scrum 14 months ago so McKenzie realised a solid set piece was essential from the outset.

"You've got build a reputation over time, you can trash it overnight but it takes time to build it," he said.

"He (Poite) was on the sideline (on Saturday) so he would have been watching and probably forming an opinion.

"There's no doubt the French referees at scrum time will favour the scrum going forward.

"That's a philosophical approach in French rugby, which I understand, so you've got to make sure you're not going backwards," said McKenzie.

WALLABIES: Israel Folau, Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale, Nic White, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (captain), Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Sam Carter, Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper. Reserves: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani.

- Stuff

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