Wallabies continue to mature - Ewen McKenzie
October 20, 2013
Ewen McKenzie will not rest until his side has defeated the All Blacks
The Wallabies will continue to express themselves on the end-of-year tour to Europe despite winning just two of seven games since revamping their style, Ewen McKenzie says.
The Wallabies flew back into Sydney on Sunday after the 41-33 loss to the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin on Saturday, and they time off until Friday before they embark on the five-match, five-week tour of Europe that kicks off against England at Twickenham on November 2.
McKenzie has encouraged the Wallabies to aim for a more-expansive style since taking over from Robbie Deans in July, yet teething problems are still apparent as the new combinations continue to jell. They defeated only Argentina home and away in The Rugby Championship, while South Africa and New Zealand each won both of their two encounters against Australia convincingly.
McKenzie believes, however, that he has good players and he is confident they will continue to mature on the international stage.
"The players are really enjoying the way they're going about it," McKenzie said after the eight-point loss to the All Blacks. "Sure, we want to get better outcomes on the scoreboard. Fundamentally, we're not going to depart from the fact that we want to express ourselves."
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"We've now got bench players of the likes of Foley coming into the game and making things happen, and that's what we want - 23 guys contributing to a thoughtful and skilful [game plan]," he said.
McKenzie said the Wallabies had matched the world champions in areas of their three Tests this season - but they still had work to do before they were on level pegging with the benchmark in world rugby.
"Each time we've played them, the gaps have gotten less on the scoreboard and we've scored more tries [than before]," McKenzie said. "But you can't get away from the fact that they're really good at putting you under pressure and we haven't dealt with that pressure for long enough."
Despite the below-par 2-5 win-loss record so far this year, James Horwill said the team would travel to Europe aiming to win every game.
"That's our thought process," the Wallabies captain said. "And now we move on to our first game, England, and we'll deal with who's after that after that first game."
Will Genia said, also, that the Wallabies would head to Europe full of confidence because "we can build" on the performance against the All Blacks, a performance he described immediately after the Test in Dunedin as "our best of the season, regardless of win or loss".
Genia said as the team prepared to depart Dunedin on Sunday: "We've built a playing style that we're now confident with, and are just building combinations and getting familiar with everyone. It's definitely a big confidence boost moving into the Spring Tour for us."
Genia said the Wallabies showed a lot of resolve and character to stay in the match when they fell behind early.
"At 23-12, we could have thrown in the towel and got spanked," he said. "We made mistakes early on. But the second half was a lot better because we held the ball, showed discipline, built pressure and managed to score points. We were still chasing the game right at the end even though we couldn't win, so it's about having pride."
Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a try after fine lineup work from Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper © Getty Images
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