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Wallabies need to move with times, says Mitchell

Take a seat … Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps, who impressed against England last weekend, will drop back to the bench and be replaced by Brett Sheehan at the scrumbase against Italy on Saturday.

Take a seat … Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps, who impressed against England last weekend, will drop back to the bench and be replaced by Brett Sheehan at the scrumbase against Italy on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images

FLORENCE: Returning Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell says the growth of ''elaborate'' defensive structures in world rugby means Australia's once-vaunted attack must take on a clinical edge.

Mitchell, along with Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor, was an integral part of the Wallabies' expansive style that won hearts and eyeballs during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but now believes the days of easy opportunities are gone, and the Wallabies must adapt.

''We'd all like to go out and play this sort of flamboyant type of rugby, but sometimes the defence doesn't allow you to do that,'' he said.

''More than anything in world rugby, the defence has come on a lot more than the attack has. Defensive structures and systems have become so elaborate and disciplined that it actually makes it harder to find those types of gaps and spaces and opportunities.''

The 28-year-old's career hit a major snag the same year the lights began to dim on the Wallabies' attack. Mitchell broke his ankle in April last year and by September the Wallabies back line was enjoying less and less cut-through as rivals upped their defensive games. The World Cup was a low point for both.

One year on, there are positive signs for player and team. Mitchell will start against Italy in Florence on Saturday after learning he could run on his right leg despite having ruptured the tendon supporting the arch in that foot, and the Wallabies are showing the first encouraging signs of long-lost potency in attack.

But the Brisbane-born winger says for the Wallabies to keep entertaining fans, territory and possession cannot be squandered on the basis more chances will pop up.

''There's going to be limited opportunities in a game. We will get some but they may be limited and we have to make sure we make the most of the ones we are presented with,'' Mitchell said.

Mitchell and Florence share a colourful past. The last time he played at Stadio Artemio Franchi, in Australia's 32-14 victory over the Azzurri, he ended up with his pants down on television as a clutching tackle revealed a paper-scissors-rock tattoo on his backside.

''I didn't necessarily mind about the back end, because just prior to that the front end was catching a bit of wind, so I just had to get rid of the ball pretty quickly,'' he said of his cheeky run two years ago.

Back on track after the most trying two years of his career, Mitchell's daily routine is a far cry from those of his younger, less battle-scarred teammates. The mysterious nature of his ankle injury - there is no good reason why his right arch should not collapse at any second - has him lining up outside the physiotherapist's door for daily treatments.

''It's an ongoing thing and it's something I'm going to have to do until I hang up [the boots],'' he said.

As for when that day might come, Mitchell neither minds nor cares to predict. He is looking no further than the Test match on Saturday.

''I've stopped [looking ahead] because it seems every time I try and look too much further down the track, I hit a bit of a crossroads before that,'' he said.

''You don't necessarily know how many times you're going to get to pull the jersey back on and it's something that I certainly hold dear, to be able to get that opportunity, and it's something that I certainly savour.

''It may be my last - hopefully not, but that's the attitude I've got to go about it with. What comes of that in the future is not necessarily my choice.''

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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