McKenzie happy to accept Bledisloe challenge
December 5, 2013
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick say the Wallabies were "simply sensational" against Wales
Ewen McKenzie denies the Wallabies' Rugby Championship-opening Bledisloe Cup double-header is daunting, saying "it's a really good challenge for us ... it's what it is and we've just got to get out there and make the most of it".
Australia play the world champions back-to-back to kick-off the tournament for the third year running, after seeing their previous two campaigned steamrolled within a week as the All Blacks commenced their undefeated championship runs.
But McKenzie says the Wallabies will be in their best shape yet as they bid to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002, and to win at Eden Park in Auckland for the first time since 1986, after claiming four victories from five Tests on their end-of-year tour of Europe.
"We have a lot more time to get organised with the June Tests against France so we should be able to go into that pretty well set up," McKenzie said. "We're definitely making progress in the right direction so that's good looking forward to the championship next year. It's not daunting, it's a really good challenge for us.
"We didn't get it right [this year] but each time we played New Zealand we closed the gap so we'll look forward to that.
"I don't think there's too many ways you can run the draw. It's what it is and we've just got to get out there and make the most of it."
McKenzie said he got what he wanted out of the tour of Europe, despite losing to England first up to bomb their opportunity of a Grand Slam and subsequently standing down six players for a midweek drinking session in Dublin. The Wallabies showed they could bounce back from adversity by putting four wins back-to-back, and McKenzie said the challenge now would be to pick up from where they left off in 2014.
"We've done a lot of changing," McKenzie said. "It's taken eight or nine games to get it right."
McKenzie will be further boosted in 2014, with Kurtley Beale, David Pocock, Wycliff Palu and Scott Higginbotham to return from injury to press their Test claims in the Super Rugby season from February.
Australia ended their tour of Europe in the best fashion against Wales in Cardiff © Getty Images
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