McKenzie plots Newlands upset

a490f99cbc1b4d6ea073edefe21049d9Ewen McKenzie has not had the start he wanted in his first 10 weeks as Australia coach but, rejecting any talk of crisis, the former test prop is busy plotting a first win over South Africa in Cape Town in two decades.

By: Sport24

McKenzie’s appointment in the wake of the British and Irish Lions series defeat provoked a wave of optimism in Australia but that was quickly dissipated by two defeats at the hands of New Zealand and a humbling 38-12 home loss to the Springboks.

After finally eking out the first win of his reign, by a single point against Argentina in Perth last week, the Wallabies now face one of the toughest road trips in rugby – a jaunt to South Africa followed by a re-match with the Pumas in Rosario.

Troubles with the scrum under the new laws have only been the most obvious of the problems for a team that has shipped 13 tries in its four Rugby Championship Tests but McKenzie was in no mood for crisis talk after announcing his squad for the tour.

“You can get bogged down in how people want to describe things. I want to see progress,” he told a small group of reporters on Tuesday.

“I’ve definitely seen progress in parts of the game. There are parts we need to do better at, there’s no question about that.

“But I’m looking at other games and I’m not seeing the scrum outcomes in New Zealand-South Africa game, the first five went to penalties. You’re not seeing clear outcomes anywhere.

“So, they’re things we’re going to keep working on, if you get a bit of stability and a bit of consistency.”

An analytical coach who prefers to sit in the grandstand with his laptop rather in the coaches’ box during matches, McKenzie was disappointed with the execution of his gameplan in the home match against South Africa.

So despite the Brisbane drubbing and the fact that the Wallabies have not won at Newlands since McKenzie helped them do so in 1992, he said his team would approach the September 28 fixture with confidence.

“It’s not like they were way out of our league,” he insisted, adding: “We’re not going to go there to make up the numbers, we’ve put a lot of thought into the potential composition of the team and how we might go about it.

“We didn’t get to the gameplan we wanted to last time and so we’ve still got stuff up our sleeve we haven’t tried yet.

“But you’ve got to be able to impose yourself physically on the game, that’ll be an important part of it.”

The return of experienced prop Benn Robinson will add some bulk to the squad, as will captain James Horwill after missing the last two Tests with a hamstring strain.

McKenzie was keen to point out, though, that he had not abandoned his project to get the Wallabies playing “the Australian way” with ball in hand.

“The Springboks are fielding a big, powerful team and we’ve been mindful of that in how we’ve picked the squad,” he said.

“You’ve got to match size to some extent, but you’ve still got to play the game you want to play.”

If he has done nothing else in his short time at the Wallabies, McKenzie has already shown with the benching of scrumhalf Will Genia that reputation counts for little if a player is not in form and he has an alternative.

“You could just wait, but we’re not in a position to wait,” he explained. “You can’t just sit there for five or sixes losses, you’ve got to drive outcomes sometimes.

“You got to make decisions.”

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  1. avatar


    September 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Should read “McKenzie found the plot that he has lost”

  2. avatar


    September 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    @Morné: He will have to do some harry potter shit to turn things around against the Boks

  3. avatar

    Mug Punters Organisation of South Africa

    September 18, 2013 at 6:02 am

    He has no idea, swears the players during training and has no game plan.

  4. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

    His “dumn it down” comment after the Boks game revealed a lot about Mr McKenzie. If the teams playing “dummer” rugby than your team, keeps beating you with your “clever” rugby, who is really dumn?

  5. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 7:35 am

    dumn = dumb

  6. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Guys – you are getting a bit ahead of yourselves here – Rugby at this level is “a game of inches” and the margins are very small – who is to say the aussies do not find that “margin” to beat us at Cape town?
    Just saying that this arrogance is normally found on NZ web-sites :soek: and seeing it here just makes me very uncomfortable especially when the game can flip on its head in 2 weeks.

  7. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 8:07 am


    I hear what you are saying, but the Ausies have shown nothing under McKenzie to suggest a speedy turnaround, have they?

  8. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 8:14 am


    well I hope they don’t show it in Newlands!!

  9. avatar


    September 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

    This is the year where the springboks consolidate the number two spot, during the PDV era and player power we had an insular look at how rugby should be played and between them they didn’t find a way to beat Australia regularly, there were also a few games that went to the wire and we were on the receiving end of some disappointing losses.

    Our attack has improved, and far be it for me to say I was right, even Heyneke Meyer has agreed we need to chase more tries.

    Especially against NZ, even with 14 men we proved when pressure is put via attack on the All BLacks they invariably infringe and wilt under pressure.

    the kicking game is good to force turnovers and play territory, but once you have gained territory, attacking play is what really creates doubt in an opponent.


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