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Qantas Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie was understandably downbeat after Australia’s 38-12 lost to South Africa in Brisbane on Saturday night but he was already charting a course to resurgence in the three remaining rounds of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
"The bottom line is we made too many errors to be able to win, simple as that” said McKenzie frankly, “but I can't keep saying that every week.”
"In the end we have to start looking and saying 'why have we made the errors' – either we're playing a game that's too complicated or the skill level doesn't match it, or we'll go back and have a look and dumb it down a bit and make it a bit simpler.
"That would be disappointing but we'll have a look at the whole gamut."
McKenzie refused to use injuries as an excuse but it can’t be forgotten the Wallabies were missing captain James Horwill, a late injury withdrawal, as well as a quartet of long termed injured - hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, No.8 Wycliff Palu, backrower Scott Higginbotham and flanker David Pocock.
It’s hard to think of any nation on the world not being affected by the absence of that dynamic quintet.
"We're picking the best guys we've got and they were pretty motivated and we were mixing it pretty well," said the coach.
"There were a few penalties near the end but ... we handled the intensity of their mauling game apart from that try early, which was a penalty up-field that gave them an opportunity, which we didn't want to do.
"The scrums ended up being what they are; we battled away there and we got to play from the scrum."
McKenzie acknowledged the Wallabies were well beaten at the breakdown, primarily due to a Man of the Match performance by Bok flanker Francois Louw.
"They tackled well and they had key blokes in key positions better than we did” said the former Reds and Waratahs head coach.
"We were probably more focused on attack, more guys focusing on attack rather than conserving the ball. That's a balance and something we talk about all the time, how many guys you commit to the breakdown.”
"You've got to win the ball, you've got to win what's happening there and then, there's no point worrying about where you're going after that, you've got to win the ruck. There's no new story here, the breakdown's king."
Scrumhalf Will Genia, stand-in captain for the missing Horwill, was disconsolate at the post-match press conference as the scale of the defeat hit home. It was clear how deeply the loss had hurt the Reds’ star.
"At times we're probably a little bit too lateral and play a little bit too much footy, again in our quarter," he said in a very honest appraisal.
"Using the ball and trying to run them off their feet isn't necessarily just going side to side. It's being direct, it's moving them around, shifting the ball.
"We don't chase in well at the breakdown – we give them opportunities to get in over the ball and they did that tonight. They got plenty of penalties and plenty of turnovers and kicked the points and got ahead and got too far ahead."
The Wallabies are taking the result squarely on the chin and will be working hard to turn it around this week as they prepare to take on Argentina next Saturday night in Perth in the fourth round of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
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