Wallabies hit the ground running

Australia have vowed to shelve their much criticised kicking game ahead of their vital Vodacom Tri Nations encounter against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.

Wallaby coach John Connolly attempted to vindicate the approach which saw his team kick away large amounts of possession in their clash with South Africa in Sydney.

“They [the Springboks] made mistakes and imploded against us in Brisbane [when the Wallabies won 49-0 last month],” he told the Daily Telegraph. “We thought it might happen again.

“But against the All Blacks’ backline, this would be fatal.”

Connolly took a further stab at the Springboks when speaking about the approach the Wallabies will take in the game in Auckland.

“It is going to be a completely different game with a different set of tactics against the All Blacks. You could not get two teams further apart than the All Blacks and the Springboks.”

The Springboks gameplan, which relies on pressured and aggressive defence, has been heavily criticised by the Australian media in the past. But Connolly noted it’s merits in the tournament thus far, before drawing attention to his side’s impressive scoring record.

“The All Blacks have struggled to score tries against the Springboks,” he said. “They scored two in their first game and both came from bad South African kicks.

“We scored six tries in Brisbane and we have still scored more tries than anyone else in this Tri Nations series.”

Australia will announce their starting line-up tomorrow and rumours persist that hooker Tai McIsaac and out-of-form flanker George Smith could feel the sting of the selector’s axe. Jeremy Paul and Phil Waugh would be the likely replacements in this event.

Rocky Elsom and Nathan Sharpe have also not escaped criticism and Brumbies utility forward, Mark Chisholm could get a run-on start at flank or in the second row.

Much has been made of captain George Gregan’s dire form but the veteran scrumhalf is likely to retain the No 9 shirt, with Brett Sheehan, recovered from an eye injury, providing the backup.

The backline that played the Sydney Test is likely to remain unchanged, barring the inclusion of Clyde Rathbone who is expected to replace Mark Gerrard on the wing, as the Wallabies look for strike power out wide.