Wallabies promise to pack a punch against Wales
Wallabies forwards may have a reputation for being pushovers at scrum time, but coach Robbie Deans is adamant his pack can foot it with any side in the world.
Australia won the battle of the big men against Wales in last week’s first Test victory in Brisbane. And even with powerful prop Sekope Kepu a doubt for Saturday’s clash with an arm injury, Deans is confident he has enough depth to produce a repeat performance in Melbourne.
“Historically probably Wallaby sides have been accused of trying to avoid the scrum, it’s not the case now,” said the Kiwi coach, who named an unchanged line-up for the second Test. “We’ve now got a generation of front-rowers who we think are going to serve us very well in that area.”
For years, the Aussie pack has been viewed as a weak point by rival sides, particularly in England where they suffered the ultimate embarrassment of non-contested scrums after being shoved all over Twickenham in 2005.
But explosive No.8 Wycliff Palu believes they’ve found the key to leave such dismal displays in the past.
“It’s all about scrumming as an eight,” he said. “I think these days everyone’s scrumming, even the back rowers, even I am. It makes their job a lot easier.”
Meanwhile, Wales warmed up for the second Test with a scrappy 25-15 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
AUSTRALIA XV: A Ashley-Cooper, C Vuna, R Horne, P McCabe, D Ioane, B Barnes, W Genia; W Palu, D Pocock (C), S Higginbotham, N Sharpe, R Simmons, S Kepu, T Polota-Nau, B Robinson
Kiwis shrug off Vito blow
Steve Hansen claims the All Blacks lose nothing by calling up flanker Liam Messam after Victor Vito was ruled out of the rest of the Ireland series with a knee injury. The blockbusting blindside suffered the blow during last week’s 42-10 first Test victory at Eden Park and is expected to be sidelined for up to five weeks. Adam Thomson has been elevated to the starting line-up for Saturday’s match in Christchurch with nine-Test forward Messam drafted in as cover.
And the Kiwi coach said: “It’s unfortunate for him [Vito], but I guess it gives someone else an opportunity. [Messam] has had a very good season, he’s been consistent and deserves his opportunity if he gets one.”