Rugby

Oz welcome break from Boks

2013-10-25 10:32
Ewen McKenzie (Getty)

Sydney - Australia are looking forward to a break from playing New Zealand and South Africa as well as a chance to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this year on their tour of Europe, coach Ewen McKenzie said on Friday.

The Wallabies suffered three heavy defeats to the All Blacks and two to the Springboks in the southern hemisphere test season and last won consecutive matches when they beat Italy and Wales to end last year's tour.

McKenzie, who took the reins in July after the 2-1 British and Irish Lions series defeat, is convinced his team are on an upward trajectory and sees the matches against England, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as a chance to prove it.

"Obviously, we've played the All Blacks and South Africa a bunch of times and I think we're looking forward to the challenge of playing five different teams, five different types of football," he told reporters at Sydney airport.

"The last couple of weeks, there's a feeling there's a real momentum starting to build, I think the players are starting to feel that.

"There's a lot of positive things going on behind the scenes and this tour will be a great opportunity for us to work hard and get some results.

"We're out there to win and obviously build some consistency, winning one game here and there is not enough, we want to be able to win consistently."

The Wallabies, whose three wins this year have come in the second Lions Test and twice against Argentina, took some encouragement from scoring three tries in their 41-33 defeat to the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend.

"There's been encouragement in all of the games, but ultimately you can only talk about the scoreboards," McKenzie added. "The scoreboards haven't been kind to us.

"In the end, we've got to tie up a few things and this will be a good chance to do that."

The tour starts with the match against England at Twickenham and Australia will take confidence from the fact they won the corresponding fixture last year.

"It's a great one, I have great memories from last year," said openside flank Michael Hooper, who was Man of the Match in last year's encounter and won the John Eales Medal as Australia's outstanding player of the year on Thursday.

"We're starting to put things together, our backs are starting to fire and we've come out with some good results on the back of not our best performances. I think we can do a lot better."

McKenzie said he hoped to have all his players available for the Twickenham match, although lock Rob Simmons suffered a "minor" medial ligament injury to his knee in the Dunedin defeat - one of his better performances in a Wallabies shirt.

After two wins and five defeats in his first seven matches in charge, a first Grand Slam tour since Mark Ella inspired the 1984 Wallabies to the feat looks unlikely.

McKenzie, though, is coach of Australia and so beating all four "home" nations as well as downing the Italians in Milan had to be top of his list of objectives.

"Five wins, confidence, we want to keep expressing ourselves as a team, I think the guys are really enjoying the spirit we're trying to play with," McKenzie said.

"We've just got to tidy up bits and pieces, that's narrowing down, we've got a lot of specific things we can work on in training so if we can use to focus on that, that'll be a good base for next year."

Read more on:    wallabies  |  ewen mckenzie  |  rugby
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