Lions in Australia

McKenzie's Reds show the way

2013-06-09 14:02
Ewen McKenzie (Gallo Images)

Brisbane - Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes the way his team put pressure on the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's Brisbane blockbuster was a blueprint for Australia to beat the tourists.

However, the former test prop did not sound particularly confident that Australia coach Robbie Deans, with whom he has a fractious relationship, would follow his lead when the Wallabies come to Brisbane for the first test on June 22.

The Reds gave the Lions a huge battle at Lang Park on Saturday, tearing into the tourists from the off, keeping the tempo of the game high, running the ball away from the contact area and outscoring the tourists two tries to one.

McKenzie thought the seven Reds players in the Wallabies squad and unavailable to him on Saturday might have made a difference to what ended as a 22-12 defeat.

"We put them under pressure and I think we showed you don't have to play the game in the orthodox way, you can play differently and put teams under pressure," he said.

"I think if we'd been a bit more clinical in our finishing and a bit more experience in a couple of moments, who knows?

"All we did was present a way of playing against them - the beauty of rugby is that you can play it a thousand ways - a scenario we thought would work and we did a fair job of putting them under pressure.

"Whether someone wants to mimic that, we'll see."

McKenzie has already announced that he will leave the Reds at the end of the season and is expected to replace Deans if the New Zealander's contract is not renewed at the end of the year.

Deans has a reputation for excluding other influential voices from his management group and it was clear when McKenzie was asked whether he would be reporting back to the Wallabies coach that he was not part of an Australian coaching brain trust.

"We chat along the way," he bristled, adding that he would catch up with Deans when the Wallabies trained in Brisbane before the first of the three tests.

"I'm not privy to what they're doing but in that week before the first test I'll watch them train and get some idea of what's going on."

Quade Cooper, excluded from the initial Wallabies squad for the Lions series and clearly not expecting to be added when Deans finalises his squad on Tuesday, has been a significant source of the rift between Deans and McKenzie.

While Deans seems to have lost faith in the mercurial flyhalf after the 2011 World Cup, McKenzie made him his captain to face the Lions and still believes he should be a Wallaby.

"I've probably answered this question a hundred times and I'll answer that in the same way I always have," he said. "I'm biased, I pick Quade every week and if I was picking a team next week I'd pick Quade."


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