JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Coach Ewen McKenzie left scratching his head as Wallabies take a break

Head scratcher: Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie now has injuries to Pat McCabe and Nathan Charles to add to his troubles.

Head scratcher: Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie now has injuries to Pat McCabe and Nathan Charles to add to his troubles. Photo: Reuters

Ewen McKenzie will go back to the drawing board after the All Blacks took a nine-inch nail to the bubble of optimism in Australian rugby in Auckland at the weekend.

The Wallabies' hopeful momentum from seven wins on the trot and eight Tests without a loss came to a screeching halt at Eden Park on Saturday, after a 51-20 humiliation at the hands of the World Cup holders. So much for the Waratahs' Super Rugby success. Australia's best players, many in career-best form, allowed themselves to be overpowered, overawed and outclassed by a New Zealand side with a point to prove.

They left Auckland on Sunday bruised and battered, Nathan Charles in a sling with a suspected rib or pectoral injury and Pat McCabe in a neck brace. But the physical scars told just half the story.

1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina) Click for more photos

Team of the 2014 Rugby Championship - Round Two

Paul Cully picks the best XV from the second round of the 2014 Rugby Championship. Photo: Getty Images

This one – the All Blacks' highest score against Australia and their third biggest points differential – should stick in the craw, fuelling motivation for the get-square down the track. "You have to respond after that," McKenzie said. "We've enjoyed winning over the last period of time and we've been competitive, so it was a massive disappointment."

McKenzie acknowledged the Wallabies had "created expectation" and failed miserably to deliver, and did not rule out big changes for the next Test, against South Africa in two weeks.

"We'd created some expectation there and it wasn't like we came up short, we came up a long way short, so that's really disappointing," he said. "We have to turn it around. The All Blacks went out there, they were under a lot of pressure, and they responded. That's what we've got to do."

The Wallabies may be limited in their capacity to do so, after injuries have run down stocks in key positions, including hooker, wing and halfback. And while the defensive frailties were plain, there was so little time in attack it is difficult to say anything categorical about McKenzie's halves experiment. Nevertheless, the Australian coach did not rule anything out.

"You've heard me say selections are a one-game contract," he said. "You get a chance and you have to go out there and make the most of it. We don't tend to change things after one game but you like to see an improvement and I've already said there are good players missing out. I thought [centre Tevita] Kuridrani did a good job at the back end of the game, for example. There are players itching to get a go and we recognise that. We were getting the performances on the field until last night, so we'll have to take stock."

The Wallabies break for a week before flying to Perth on Sunday to begin preparations for South Africa. The Springboks survived a huge scare from Argentina in Salta to sneak a 33-31 win on Saturday, thanks to a penalty by replacement five-eighth Morne Steyn in the final three minutes. Despite New Zealand's masterclass in Auckland, their 12-12 draw with Australia in Sydney leaves them trailing South Africa by a point after two rounds of the four-nation Rugby Championship.

After three seasons in the competition, Argentina is still without a win, and will travel to New Zealand at the end of the week to play the blisteringly hot All Blacks. After reviewing the tape, McKenzie said the Wallabies gave their opposition several legs up into the game at Eden Park. "The bottom line is, when you go through their point-scoring, predominantly it's off turnovers from us," he said. "Their ability to play from turnovers was exceptional. We weren't able to capitalise in the same way.

"It's very frustrating because when you look through the set-piece stuff, we didn't get near executing the plan that we had and off turnovers, that's what they're good at.

"We were aware of that, but you have to be able to react to that and reorganise. The transitional defence is an important part of that and we didn't get it right."


  • The supporters are the ones scratching their heads with some of McKenzie's selections. Why would you mess around with a winning formula and drop Foley from fly half? Was he simply trying to separate himself from Cheika? Foley had been great in the position. Beale was chosen out of position. As soon as Foley came on in game one they were a better team. If they had played him the whole of game one they would have won and would still be in with a chance to take the Bledisloe Cup.

    Ken Dropole
    Date and time
    August 24, 2014, 8:36PM
    • Ken. We all agree the ABs played what was probably the worse game in living memory there in Sydney. If they had glue on their hands the ball would not have stuck. It was a shocker, except in one area - DEFENSE! Australia talked themselves up no end before the game, which one and all have come to expect - basically dissing the opposition by announcing: 'The gap has closed' 'We don't fear the All Blacks any more' . Nick Far-Jones, in his normal blather, 'The All Blacks are ripe for plucking" He was a brilliant player, (god knows how, as his pre-match talk is normally a load of tripe!)

      Here is what I am getting at. On the All Blacks worst night, with a performance that was embarrassing, where the men in gold had 70% of the ball and god knows how much time in NZs half, or inside their 22 meter line. They couldn't do it ...They set their tent firmly in front of the ABs sticks and camped there. Who does that? Which side in world rugby would not be able to grab the points from that position? Australia were weak and unable to get over the line ...

      There is no gap closing. There is no 'catching' up! It's the same old rubbish side that has been running around for years. In fact Australia would have to be the Scotland of southern hemisphere rugby!

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:17AM
    • and just to finish off my thoughts Ken.... notice I used the word 'FINISH' The very thing Australia do not have the ability to do when it comes to the All Blacks ... to finish off ....

      Stop the blah blah and dissing other sides Australia. Respect teams and their skill ... When the sides play again in Australia, expect to witness complete and utter annihilation of the chaps who run around in gold. Australia are not even in the same bracket as this All Black team!

      Teams don't catch the All Blacks, and certainly not Australia. The All Blacks, at times have a bad night, they play like other teams, this is what happens. Catching up ... good lord!

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:19AM
    • Agree 100%. Even a novice to the game would not have dropped an in form player (Foley) and replaced him with someone who has not played in the specialist fly half position since 2012 and who has started just seven games at fly half in a 42-Test career spanning 5 years. McKenzie went out on a limb, took a big / moronic gamble and lost. He needs to be held accountable.

      Very Unhappy
      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:29AM
    • Bit of a stretch to say that Foley would have won the game for the Wallabies.

      By the time he had come on the ABs were ahead 44 - 6. Do you really think they would have allowed two soft tries like that if scores had been level? You Wallaby fans amaze me. The ABs just knocked your "Super Rugby" logic out of the park and yet you're still clinging to it like a doonah on a cold night.

      Foley would have made no difference. I agree he should play at 10 but it was your engine room who was humiliated off the park.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:53AM
    • Maximums, should be Minimus. Who won the Super15. Me thinks the Waratahs beat the New Zealand mob. I rest my case.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 7:57AM
    • Did Foley run over your cat Link? Despite a measurable improvement on Saturday night when Phipps and Foley came on, you single out Kurindrani for a special mention. The whole of Australia are telling you your selection of Beale instead of Foley is moronic, why cant you see it?

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 8:58AM
    • Gonzo, I was clearly talking about game 1. They were never expected to win game two, especially with the team McKenzie picked but if they had won game one the series would still be alive.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 9:22AM
    • KP - Maximums, should be Minimus. Who won the Super15. Me thinks the Waratahs beat the New Zealand mob. I rest my case.

      Perhaps you should go back to supporting league as union seems to be too complex for you...

      Big whoop that the Warratahs won the Super 15 (with some of the worst reffing going for them BTW)...that means squat when it comes to the Rugby Championship...

      Heres a lesson from history for you - NZ come 1st/2nd/3rd in 1998...we lost 5 tests in a row...

      Super Rugby <> Test Rugby

      Anyone who thinks otherwise is dumber than McKenzie...

      PS - Still think hes better than Deans? At least Deans beat the AB's (without rubbish South African Ref assistance as well)

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 12:35PM
    • @Maximus - It's clear as daylight that Australia are much better on attack with Phipps/Foley/Beale, rather than White/Beale/Toomua. You only have to see the difference it made in the first 2 games when Phipps/Foley were brought on way too late.

      I don't think it would have made a difference in game 2, AB's were on fire, Wallabies would probably have got done anyway.

      As far as the AB's defense in game 1, they should probably have had more players sent off for continued infringements and cynical play in their own 22. There was 1 period of play where they gave away 3 "advantages" in the space of about 2 minutes and then the ref calls "advantage over" even though they had made no ground and no tactical advantage was gained. A penalty there about 20m out and right in front, and that's the game.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 12:41PM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Richie McCaw Team of the 2014 Rugby Championship - Round Two

Paul Cully picks the best XV from the second round of the 2014 Rugby Championship.

d Wallabies dismantled in second Bledisloe Cup match

The Wallabies won't get their hands on the Bledisloe Cup for the 12th straight year after being steamrolled 51-20 by the All Blacks in Auckland.

Wallabies humbled by All Blacks in Bledisloe Cup massacre

There is no hiding at Eden Park. The rain, wind and mud confused the picture in Sydney a week ago, allowing the Wallabies to draw with the All Blacks and their fans to hope.

Wallabies also culpable in Bledisloe bloodsport

Hard questions for the Wallabies from top to bottom.

Kurtley Beale has got to go, but to where in Wallabies' starting back line?

Kurtley Beale should be switched from the starting five-eighth slot to the wing in the Wallabies line-up that was thrashed by the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday night, former World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer says.

Related Coverage

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

Follow Us on Facebook

Featured advertisers