Low point ... the Wallabies after their loss to France. Photo: Reuters
LONDON: Legendary Wallabies five-eighth Michael Lynagh says Australia must be ''bolder'' in attack to avoid humiliation at the hands of a ''buoyant'' England side in Twickenham this weekend.
Lynagh, who recently marked an important six-month milestone in his recovery from a stroke, wants the Wallabies to ditch an apparent obsession with phase play and back themselves to score tries.
''It's one of the great foundations of Australian rugby, that we're creative, we have good backs and we know how to use the ball differently to a lot of other teams and look to score tries,'' he said.
''What I would like to see is, from set play, Australia being a little bit more bolder and starting to use the ball and use some plays to look to score tries as opposed to setting up the next play with a view to setting up six phases in a row and then 'maybe we'll make a break'.''
Lynagh said the absence of the likes of Will Genia, James O'Connor and Quade Cooper from the back line had taken an edge off the Wallabies attack but a team built from utility backs was not the answer.
''One of the problems is that you've got all these guys who can play No.10, No.12, winger, fullback and they all just slot in, which is lovely. But maybe that's not helping in terms of scoring tries, maybe what it is doing is having all these good players on the field but the teamwork is not quite what it should be because they're all swapping positions all the time.''
It has been more 17 years since Lynagh retired from international rugby with a 1991 World Cup win and a points-scoring record under his belt. He left for Europe soon after and has lived there since.
Yet news of the stroke the former Wallabies captain suffered while on a short visit home to Brisbane in April rocked the rugby community, prompting an outpouring of emotion Lynagh still finds overwhelming.
Seven months on, he can no longer ride a bicycle or drive a car because the stroke left him with half the peripheral vision in his left eye.
The restrictions have robbed him of simple pleasures such as driving his three sons, Louis, Tom and Nic, to sport on weekends but the 49-year-old remembers every day how lucky he is to be enjoying watching them grow up at all.
''The doctor told me, 'You shouldn't be able to walk, you shouldn't be able to talk, you shouldn't be able to use your left hand and you shouldn't be able to see what you're seeing','' Lynagh said.
''It's like winning a rugby match that's really tough when you're down at half-time and you can't see the end and all of a sudden, you win the game and you're feeling fine afterwards. There's that euphoria - you get quite excited about being alive.''
A commentator with Sky, Lynagh will be at Twickenham to weigh in on the Wallabies' performance against England. Despite his long and distinguished playing career, he said Australia's loss to France in the opening match of their four-Test tour was deeply concerning. ''It's the consistency that's not endearing them to their supporters and I'm sure they're as frustrated as everybody else,'' he said. ''I'm sure if they knew the answer to it they'd fixed it.
''Their downside is so far from their upside, you've got to try to narrow those two gaps.
''When you have an off day, it is middle of the road as opposed to being beaten by France like they were. It was a very good French team but it's going to be a very good English team as well.''
Lynagh also threw conditional support behind Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who was under immense pressure before Australia beat Argentina and drew with the All Blacks last month.
''I just feel, at the moment, he's suffering from being a New Zealander, which is unfair, and he's also suffering from horrendous injuries to star players but also leaders within that team. I don't think you can underestimate the importance of that.
''Say we lose the next two or three games, he's going to be under enormous pressure and we'll have to start again. Whether that's feasible, I don't know. What I do know is that as soon as he gets his players back next year, fresh from getting over injuries and coming back into a Lions tour, I think they'll be pretty competitive and playing pretty good rugby. If you sack him now on the basis it's a second team and they didn't play well, I don't think that's right.''