Wallabies' woes continue under McKenzie
Bryan Habana of the Springboks intercepts the ball. Photo: Getty Images
Wallaby great Michael Lynagh has ripped into the Wallabies after they were walloped by the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday night, saying the side is going backwards and don’t hurt enough from losses.
In a stinging assessment of the side under coach Ewen McKenzie, a team-mate of his in the Wallaby squad at the 1991 World Cup, Lynagh told Sky Sports in the UK the honeymoon period under the new management was well and truly over.
Certainly McKenzie is having an early ideological crisis of sorts, saying after the game he may have to dumb things down to match the current skillset of his group, which turned over masses of ball and were mugged at the breakdown by the rampant Springbok loose forwards.
If it looked exceedingly average in Brisbane, it looked even worse from the other side of the planet, with Lynagh holding little back while delivering his verdict on Australia’s fourth-consecutive Test defeat.
“This whole year has not been good and I don’t think the team is getting any better - if anything it is getting worse,” Lynagh said.
“We didn't look like scoring, our defence was very poor - something that has been a factor for the last few games - our scrum has gone backwards, our attack is too predictable and there were many handling errors.”
Lynagh said he didn’t appreciate footage of James O’Connor laughing and smiling with Springbok players after the 38-12 defeat.
“I am really disappointed at the moment as there is no aspect of the play where you’d say: ‘That looks promising’. Australia are in a huge hole and I think that is because they have got too comfortable.
"James O'Connor was laughing with the Springboks at the end and while it’s okay to be a good sportsman, I don’t think a willy-nilly performance like that hurts them enough.
“They need to have a long hard look at themselves and start working harder as the honeymoon period for McKenzie is certainly over.”
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers had more sympathy for the side he had just helped take to pieces, saying a new coach, new players, a new ethos and late injuries made for a lethal cocktail.
“They are in a sticky situation. It’s never easy. New coach, they play the All Blacks twice, their captain gets injured on the Tuesday, so it’s a snowball effect. You feel for them in a way. We’re just happy we were on the other side tonight,” he said.
The Boks were ruthless on the park but afterwards, de Villiers had some words of encouragement for Israel Folau, who underplayed his hand at fullback and failed to inject himself into the backline with any venom.
“I told Israel Folau afterwards that it’s so great to see a guy like him signing on with union. To see a guy like him, he’s going to become a massive player in this game,” de Villiers said.
Before opening his press conference, South African coach Heyneke Meyer thanked God for all of his help.
At this point, Ewen McKenzie could do with some divine intervention of his own.