McKenzie happy to accept Bledisloe challenge
December 5, 2013
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick say the Wallabies were "simply sensational" against Wales
Audio/Video: Greg Growden reviews Wallabies tour
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
West Indies outmuscled England to win the T20 series 2-0 with one to play courtesy of a five-wicket win with seven balls to spare at Kensington Oval
Jelena Jankovic routed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals at Indian Wells on Tuesday, winning a tie of former tournament champions and world No.1 ranked players
Novak Djokovic defeated Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1 3-6 6-1 on Tuesday, ending the Colombian's surprising run to the third round at Indian Wells
Arsene Wenger has confirmed Mesut Ozil may miss "the next few weeks" after he was substituted with a hamstring problem during Arsenal's 1-1 Champions League draw to Bayern Munich
Diego Costa scored twice as Atletico Madrid sealed a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in 17 years with an impressive 4-1 victory over AC Milan at the Vicente Calderon
Ahead of his home grand prix and first race for Red Bull this weekend, Daniel Ricciardo sat down with media on the 29th floor of a Melbourne tower block to talk about his team's testing troubles, going up against a four-time champion and hooking up his si
SANZAR's expansion plans don't address the question of how you jazz up Super Rugby to make it the best rugby tournament in the world, Craig Dowd writes
Mark Hammett and the Hurricanes are struggling, but still he deserves more time to impart his philosophy on the Wellington franchise, Craig Dowd writes
Lewis Hamilton may not have come close to matching his 2008 title-winning season in recent years, but the regulations shake-up and the powerful Mercedes engine could see him sweep all before him in Formula One this season
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
Manchester United are in negotiations with Sporting Lisbon over the signing of defensive midfielder William Carvalho, according a report in the Daily Mail
Juan Mata wants to play in the No.10 role for Manchester United and does not see himself as the winger manager David Moyes is using him as
George Groves has called for foreign officials to be appointed for his rematch against Carl Froch at Wembley Stadium on May 31
Carl Froch's rematch with George Groves at Wembley Stadium on May 31 has sold 60,000 tickets in less than an hour
Manchester United are the latest Premier League club to track Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata and sources have told ESPN FC that they are seriously considering making a bid for the player this summer
The last time the British and Irish Lions toured Down Under, they lost out 2-1 to Australia in the series despite winning the first Test.
The events of last Saturday night in Las Vegas should be educational for all concerned with Froch-Groves II at Wembley, writes Steve Bunce
Joga Bonito's gone out of the window in Brazil. That's the view of Uruguay captain Diego Lugano, handily expressed ahead of their Confederations Cup semi-final showdown in Belo Horizonte.
After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Selected by our panel of experts, 11 of Saturday's star performers, along with a manager, are carefully chosen. Do you agree or disagree?
The start of the new Premier League season is still almost two months away but you can still bet on who will relegated come May 2014.