Combinations key to scrum success: Sio

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

If the Wallabies are to stand a chance against the All Blacks, scrummaging will be key.

The key to unlocking that success at set piece time is familiarity, according to Scott Sio.

The Wallabies prop cast his mind back to the last time the Wallabies beat New Zealand - the first 2015 Bledisloe in Sydney - and recalled a time in which his scrummaging with Sekope Kepu and Stephen Moore had become second nature.

"At that time I had been scrummaging with Squeak and Keps for a couple of years - at camps and in games - and I guess we were just in sync," Sio said.

"We came out with the mindset that we really wanted to be aggressive and match their aggression at set piece area.

"Half the battle is winning that aggression and mindset battle - where you can try and dominate and that's what you need to do in that area of the game."Scott Sio believes scrummaging is key to Bledisloe Cup success. Photo: Getty ImagesThat search for a combination is exactly what the All Blacks have in spades, with Sio expecting a Crusaders heavy tight five to pack down on August 19.

"If they pick the guys on form you would say it's (Joe) Moody, (Codie) Taylor and (Owen) Franks together," he said.

"They've been scrummaging together for a couple of years now at provincial level and at the All Blacks so they know each other back to front.

"Then you throw in (Brodie) Retallick and (Sam) Whitelock behind them and they've been together for a number of years - their combination is pretty strong."

Sio spent years packing down alongside Stephen Moore, knows Tatafu Polota-Nau's game in similar depth and has formed a prolific combination with Allan Alaalatoa in Canberra.

That provides the foundational chemistry which the Wallabies need up front if they are to apply pressure on an All Blacks set piece that went toe to toe with the British and Irish Lions in June.

"We are communicating a lot better to try and solve those problems, rather than burying our heads in our sand and figuring it out on our own," he said.The All Blacks are fresh off the toughest scrum test of all. Photo: Getty Images"The progression for us is to try and problem solve quicker, that way we can get it fixed at the next scrum.

"Each team has a certain way they want to scrummage and it's about us realising where the pressure is coming from and working against that group, rather than individually."

On a personal front, Sio has hit the ground running in both Newcastle and Cessnock, a far cry from the injury interrupted lead up he had going into the June Test window.

"I've been working pretty hard with the S and C and the medical team to stay on top of it," he said of his knee injuries.

"I went through a major one with my right knee and I have seen the after effects of that so I just want to make sure I stay on top of that with my left one.

"I feel good - these camps are about coming in with the right mental frame of mind and being ready for anything.


"That's what these camps are about - fine tuning what we are trying to do on the field this year."

Now, as the lead up to the Bledisloe begins, Sio feels the team has done everything in their power to peak at the best possible time.

"I've loved it, I think it's been great and it's put a different spin on the year for us," he said of the country camps.

"We've got a different make up this year, a lot of youth and exuberance and the effort is there.

"We're really trying to get those one percenters down pat and familiarise everyone with everything so when we leave here on Friday we can really get stuck in next week."

Australia takes on New Zealand on August 19 in Sydney, kicking off at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.

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