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.

Ewen McKenzie says Wallabies must make up ground before Test against France

Natural born leader: Stephen Moore.

Natural born leader: Stephen Moore.

Sanctuary Cove: Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie says Australia are "playing catch-up" leading into their first Test against France this weekend.

McKenzie is wasting no time as a result, going off a combination of Super Rugby form, incumbency and gut instinct to name his first team of the season on Tuesday, just two days after the squad assembled on Queensland's Gold Coast.

"We haven't got enough time [to wait any longer], we have to get on with it," he said.

"We have a finite number of training sessions and the French have been here since the middle of last week.

"They're missing a couple of players but they still have 24 players who've been in camp since before they came here and they've been in [Australia] since the middle of last week.

"In that sense, we're playing catch-up."

McKenzie acknowledged the strong performance of the Waratahs, Western Force and Brumbies this season had made picking 32 players to use in the series very difficult.

But he also said the weekend's results, in which NSW humbled the Chiefs and the Brumbies gave the Rebels plenty of homework, had validated his selections.

"The squad we've picked reflects really good form across all the teams in Super Rugby, which I'm pleased about," McKenzie said.

"Since we've announced the squad [10 days ago], it's been confirmed to me that we picked the right guys so that will make selection really difficult.

"[In] the team that I announce, there will be good players that will miss out."

One of the toughest selections will be at halfback, where long-standing incumbent Will Genia is under massive pressure to retain his spot.

Nic White (Brumbies) and Nick Phipps (Waratahs) emerged as potent challengers over the past five or so rounds of Super Rugby, before Genia pulled out the game of his season against the Highlanders on Friday.

"Unluckily for me, it's going to be a tough day at the office when we finally sort it out," he said of some of the selection quandaries.

"That's a good situation for the Wallabies, it's tough on individuals, but the way performance works is that performance gets you in but it's performance that keeps you there. So, if you get a chance, you have to deliver."

Genia's Reds teammate James Horwill has also been under a cloud but, with regular second-row partner Rob Simmons and three uncapped players rounding out the squad's second-row stocks, it is difficult to imagine McKenzie benching the 48-Test Queenslander. 

Wycliff Palu is tipped to get the nod over the Force's Ben McCalman for the important No.8 jersey, with Rebels captain and No.8 Scott Higginbotham named as a No.6 in the squad. 

Elsewhere, in-form NSW teammates Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale will duel it out for the No.10 jersey, with Brumbies five-eighth Matt Toomua expected to be named at No.12, the position he played alongside Quade Cooper before injury hit on the spring tour. 

"Getting the team named and sorted so we can get on with it and maximise every minute of training to give ourselves the best chance to play well, it's a challenge," McKenzie said. 

Possible Wallabies team: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (c), James Slipper.

25 comments so far

  • One good match will never justify selection (referring to Genia)... If you want to beat the French, and most importantly, the NZ and SA, you need consistency... You only select one kicker in the team, who will take the long distance penalties? Although Foley is better, Beale will get the green light and Nic white will be the Australian half-back. Did you see what rubbish Phipps was passing to Foley on the weekend, apparently not. The role of a half-back is to get the ball from the back of the ruck, to the fly-halfs HANDS (which is normally chest height) as soon as the ball is available. Now which half-back has being doing that? The only thing that Horwill can do is call line-outs, he won't get a place in the row... Go tell the boys at Rugby HQ how right I am on thursday, when the team is revealed...

    Commenter
    Seb
    Date and time
    June 02, 2014, 8:36PM
    • Horwill does not call the lineouts for the Reds or the Wallabies..... so I can tell you how wrong you are.

      Commenter
      MIchael
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 5:22PM
  • Perversely, Australia has always had plenty of depth and the ability to be number one, it just wasn't obvious when we had a complete muppet as coach. Catch up, run over, speed ahead guys.

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    June 03, 2014, 5:46AM
    • Yep, cause the sudden upswing in results against quality teams really was evident when your dad took over last season.

      Commenter
      Black
      Date and time
      June 03, 2014, 10:10AM
    • You have depth in positions that won't win you hard fought test matches on a regular basis. The lack of depth in the tight 5 in Australian rugby is deplorable. Care to name your 3 topline tighthead props, loosehead props or tighthead side locks?

      Commenter
      Black
      Date and time
      June 03, 2014, 10:13AM
    • Muppet coach, muppet players and a muppet like you supporting them. Seems logical to me

      Commenter
      Masher
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 03, 2014, 6:58PM
    • Has MacKenzie moved on?

      But seriously the biggest decider when playing the French is the French and how they feel on the day. They can be sublime or outrageously bad you never now which team will turn up.

      Commenter
      weka
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 4:07PM
    • Let me fill you in Black. McKenzie's favoured game style is based on pace because he knows Australians players have superior athleticism and skills than any other country. Yes I know, kiwis think they are all amazing superheroes ...... yawn.
      McKenzie knows there is no point trying to bash the Boks in to submission, they just aren't bright enough to feel anything and there's no point playing conventional traditional rugby against the All Blacks because that's what they thrive on and excel in. The more conventional the better because their bitter personalities will just grind you down, over and over.
      What McKenzie has learnt is that kiwi teams freak when Australian teams come at them at a million miles an hour over and over. The All Blacks aren't that bright either and can't think that fast and they can't get their head around what to do when their opposition is not playing they way they want to and their incessant manic obsession with cheating every second they can is not working. Hence the regular chokes at world cups. That's why they like having so many of their coaches round the world teaching all these countries to play the way the All Blacks like them to play.
      The new Wallaby squad has been picked not to be brutal to be able to operate at extreme speed and to spread the ball wide, all the way to the wing. McKenzie was just finding his feet when he took over last year but by the end of the northern tour you could see the monster developing Should have been a grand slam but for a very suspect ref against England. You'll see.

      Commenter
      johnny-boy
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:28PM
    • Wow, who would have thought you could formulate a gameplan based solely on national stereotypes, xenophobia and jingoistic patriotism.

      Well done Johnny Boy, just when you start to make some sort of sense you revert to the bigot we know and love

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 11:35AM
    • Johnny - the problem you (like many other Aussie rugby 'fans') seem to miss is that to come at a team at a million miles an hour (as you put it) you need the ball.

      To get the ball you need to win at the breakdown.

      All the flashy backs in the world mean nothing if they are forced to tackle all day.

      The inclusion of such celebrated passengers as Slipper, Kepu, Horwill and Palu in the forward pack more or less ensures the Kiwis and Boks will win the war of ruck and maul - Hooper and Moore can't do everything.

      That said, you're right that the Aussies play best when they are full of confidence and at full steam with their tails up. The problem is that these days, without a Mortlock or a Sharpe to lead them they go right back into their shells when things start to go wrong. Here's hoping Moore understands this and is equal to the task - I think he might be.

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 11:57AM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Related Coverage

Bledisloe Cup

Bledisloe Cup
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
AUS 12 vs NZL 12 20:05ANZ
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NZL 51 vs AUS 20 17:35EP
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 28 vs NZL 29 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
Featured advertisers