Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 28 July 2021
Advertisement

McKenzie's veiled dig at Deans over sudden emergence of playmakers

The Wallaby coach has added three talented attacker to the backline his predecessor fielded against the Lions.

Ewen McKenzie's recalled Quade Cooper as soon as he was appointed Wallaby coach.
Ewen McKenzie's recalled Quade Cooper as soon as he was appointed Wallaby coach.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire

WALLABY COACH EWEN MCKENZIE has made a veiled dig at his predecessor, Robbie Deans about his side’s transformation from cautious accumulators to gun-slingers.

McKenzie is a mere four months into his role as Australia head coach but the change in the team’s playing style is clear. Quade Cooper is in half-back tandem with Will Genia and Tevita Kurindrani is joined by 23-year-old Matt Toouma in the Aussie midfield.

While Australia are hardly tearing up the world rankings charts with wins, their new, attacking direction has enthused their supporters. 18 tries have been scored in their past four Tests.

It is a departure from Robbie Deans’ reign. There were four scores of under 10 points in the Kiwi’s final year at the helm, including a 22-0 Bledisloe defeat to New Zealand. Cooper was cut loose from the squad after citing a ‘toxic environment’ under Deans while Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor were given reprieves for late-night indiscretions.

McKenzie’s under-strength Queensland Reds side, who he coached to Super Rugby success in 2011, ran the British & Irish Lions close during the summer with exciting, off-the-cuff attacks. The former Wallaby prop has brought that attacking philosophy into the national ranks and quipped that playmakers are now in rich supply.

He said, “A group of playmakers have suddenly come out of nowhere for us, and it’s definitely building the spine of our backline. It’s giving us more options and we’re very pleased with how that’s building.

You see even the likes of Israel [Folau] at the back there, then Matt Toomua in midfield, along with Tevita there too. Then there’s Christian Leali’ifano on the bench who can change things up.

It’s important for the style of game we want to play that we can have that variable point of attack. It’s great to see Quade coming along, and I think he’s making strides all the time. Clearly that partnership with Will is important to us, but I think it’s important to both of them too.”

To feed that backline, McKenzie expects his scrum to regurgitate quick ball to Genia and for back-rows Michael Hooper and Ben Mowen to win the breakdown battle.

“We know we’ve got to be totally switched on and right up to speed there, to go against a strong Irish set-up in that respect,” said McKenzie. “I think we have good balance there and hopefully we can bring that to bear to stop their experienced and talented backline getting front-foot ball.”

Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >

‘Totes amazeballs… I’m not saying that’: BOD fights the good fight in new ad

Ireland v Australia: 3 key battles to make November a success for Schmidt

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

Read next:

COMMENTS