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Wallabies will face much tougher French side in second Test, says Stephen Larkham

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Wallabies defeat France in Test opener

Australia beat France 50-23 in their Test opener at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

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Wallabies great Stephen Larkham says Ewen McKenzie must stick with a winning side for a "much tougher" second Test against France in Melbourne on Saturday night.

Larkham praised McKenzie's new halves pairing of Nic White and Bernard Foley and said their combination with Matt Toomua at No.12 gave the Wallabies endless options in attack. He said the trio would continue to improve with more game time together and would need to lift to another level against an overhauled French side stung from their 50-23 lesson in Brisbane.

"It is definitely going to be a much tougher game," Larkham said. "There was good intensity in the first 20 minutes but then they died and looked very tired for the most part."

Australia's Michael Hooper and Nic White tackle France's Hugo Bonneval during Saturday's Test.

Australia's Michael Hooper and Nic White tackle France's Hugo Bonneval during Saturday's Test. Photo: AFP

France were missing a host of first-choice players, including monster centre Mathieu Bastareaud, No.8 Louis Picamoles and captain and 2011 IRB player of the year Thierry Dusautoir. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre foreshadowed changes across the board after Saturday's loss, based on form and the return of rested players. "The plan not to play them in the first game and rest them is going to make a massive difference," Larkham said.

"Saint-Andre might have been on the money making sure those Toulon and Castres guys [who played in the Top 14 final a week ago] are fresh."

McKenzie played his selection cards close to his chest but it is difficult to imagine him doing anything but rewarding the players in such an emphatic victory.

"We had more players in form than we could pick so that's something for us to ponder," he said. "But we have to be mindful of the fact that the guys combined well and we have the opportunity to improve on those combinations that we developed in a week, so there's plenty of fine-tuning that can be done. Having some depth to be able to tinker is a good option. I'm not saying we'll do it but it's a good option to have."

McKenzie praised White and Foley for confident performances, and Larkham said Toomua's aggressive ball-carrying complemented the halves perfectly.

Will Genia could find it difficult to make his case heard for selection this week based on White's decisive contribution.

Foley grew in confidence throughout the match and put a kick through to Nick Cummins for the winger's second-half try.

"I thought the trio played very, very well – there was enough potential there to give it another couple of cracks," Larkham said.

"There were no dropped passes so the combination and communication was there after a very short preparation. Ewen picked that team based on a number of factors, but they've just won a game and done it convincingly so you have to give that combination [of players] another chance."

Stephen Larkham is an HSBC ambassador. HSBC, the world’s leading international bank, is proud to partner with the Wallabies.

4 comments so far

  • The wallabies will also be a lot better after only a few days preparation for the first test. Expect even more speed and more precision. And guys, if you're going to tap the ball on kick offs at least tap it backwards, please.

    Commenter
    Johnny-boy
    Date and time
    June 08, 2014, 8:27PM
    • How disappointing that Stephen Larkham is not signing off as an an ex-Wallaby, he is an HSBC ambassador.
      I had no idea that being aligned to a bank gave one the expertise to comment on rugby.

      Commenter
      Fergus
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 9:38AM
      • @ Fergus.... And how many Wallaby caps, have you got mate?

        Commenter
        Muzzo
        Location
        Orange
        Date and time
        June 09, 2014, 3:03PM
    • The boys haven't climbed any mountains , it's been all easy since the loss against England . I hope Le Messie has a plan to beat them as well , because World Cup time he will need more than p... and wind .
      The ABs were rattled by an England side that will be better next Test , but so will the men in black . It will be a ripper , but don't watch it Billy .

      Commenter
      Mankad
      Location
      The Bush
      Date and time
      June 09, 2014, 5:38PM

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      Wallabies defeat France in Test opener (Thumbnail) Wallabies defeat France in Test opener

      Australia beat France 50-23 in their Test opener at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

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