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Wallabies play switcheroo to lend scrum added push


Ben Horne

WALLABIES forwards coach Andrew Blades says front row versatility will help the Australian scrum adjust to short turnarounds in next week's opening Tests against Scotland and Wales.

Blades says changes made to replacement rules since his playing days have nullified the importance of having specialists in the tight-head and loose-head positions, and flexibility can help take the Australian scrum forward.

In last year's World Cup, Wallabies props Sekope Kepu and Ben Alexander played on the opposite sides of the scrum to where they play at provincial level - and Blades says the concept of switching certain players around up front to best suit the side is likely to continue.

''We're really lucky we have a number of guys who adapt well to both sides,'' he said. ''We've got Keps [Kepu] who is adept at playing both sides, Benny Alexander [who moves to tight-head for the Brumbies clash with Melbourne] adept at playing both sides … and Slips [James Slipper] can also play both sides.

''It's helpful because of the nature of the season. If you get lots of one-sided props in a total squad you find it difficult to adapt. We could potentially go into a Test with one specialist and two guys who can play both sides and we get great coverage.''

With just days between the weekend's Super Rugby matches, the Tuesday Test against Scotland and Saturday week's match against Wales - Blades says the coaching staff have looked at a variety of methods to best prepare the pack.

The bottom line is they're keeping things simple. Experienced players are likely to be relied upon in the Scotland game to help with adjusting to calls at the set-piece, and video tutorials have been used to bring players not participating in training up to speed.

Meanwhile, NRL converts Cooper Vuna and Joe Tomane will face off in Super Rugby action on Friday night in what shapes as a Wallabies wing-spot duel for the Test against Scotland.

Melbourne flyer Vuna and Brumbies revelation Tomane practised together with the Wallabies train-on squad on Wednesday, but in a mouth-watering match-up, they'll go head-to-head at AAMI Park on Friday with a gold jersey potentially on the line.

Vuna and Tomane get one final chance to convince Robbie Deans that they're ready to become the latest in a long line of league converts to play out wide for the Wallabies.

Vuna says he's approaching Friday's match as a Test selection trial, and he won't be leaving anything in reserve when he clashes with Tomane. ''It's pretty much a showcase, I guess,'' he said.


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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