Australian forwards told to step up
Australia's forwards have been asked to give the All Blacks a run for their money in the Rugby Championship.
AUCKLAND - Australia's forwards have been asked to step up and face the All Blacks to give their backs some "front foot" ball when they meet in their crucial Rugby Championship clash at Eden Park on Saturday.
Wallabies forwards came off second best last week when the world champions upset scrumhalf Will Genia's rhythm and ability to deliver clean ball to his backline and stopped them from playing their game as they recorded a 27-19 win in Sydney.
"Last week, the All Blacks denied us momentum, didn't allow us to bring more threats into the game," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans told reporters in Auckland on Friday, a day ahead of the match which also doubles as a Bledisloe Cup clash.
"The All Blacks made our life difficult ...(and) it's difficult to play off static ball and we have to find a way to create momentum.
"We have to be a bit smarter. We need to create some doubt in order for us to play ourselves."
Deans has brought mercurial flyhalf Quade Cooper, who suffered a serious knee injury on the same ground during the third-place playoff at last year's World Cup, back into the side to provide some X-factor to their attack and create that doubt.
Genia, who will captain the Wallabies after David Pocock was ruled out for up to three months following knee surgery, was looking forward to the influence his Queensland Reds team mate would bring to the side.
"He is in a good space. He has worked hard to get over his knee injury. As he said he is fit, fast and strong and ready to go," Genia added with a grin in reference to Cooper's brief media appearance that lasted about 10 seconds on Thursday in Sydney.
"Quade brings a lot to the game ... he has the ability to do things other players can't.
"The greatest strength Quade brings to our side is communication and organisation.
"He gives the guys a lot of confidence. They know where they are going, they have clarity in direction. That has been evident right throughout our preparation this week."
PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who had been the recipient of some alleged dirty play from Cooper in previous matches which had made the New Zealand born flyhalf 'Public Enemy Number One' in his homeland, said shutting Cooper down would be just part of the challenge.
"We have to make life difficult for all their backs and that's by denying them quality front foot ball," McCaw told reporters on the sideline at Eden Park.
"He has the ability to cut anyone up and we have to make sure that we deny him that."
The All Blacks appeared rusty, but in control, in Sydney and wasted several opportunities to blow out the scoreline with handling errors and poor option taking, which McCaw said had been the main focus this week.
"There is a realisation that there are a few areas that we need to improve on and the guys have gone about their work pretty well," he added.
"We were happy to win but if you put that to one side, if we were really serious about performing every week we have to look at the performance and it was only (good) in patches.
"We want to be better than that and I guess that's where you get the drive to train hard and sort those things out.
"I'll be disappointed if we don't improve significantly."