Wallabies on notice for improved Fiji

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Two improved scrums will be put to the test when Australia takes on Fiji tomorrow morning (AEST).

Australia’s scrum had been a major weakness in recent years, exposed by their northern hemisphere counterparts.

With the recruitment of Argentinian scrum coach Mario Ledesma, their performance in the Rugby Championship showed they had turned that chink into at least a consistent threat, if not a primary weapon in their arsenal.

On Wednesday night, they will come up against a Fijian side whose scrummaging has improved immensely, adding a different dimension to their game.

Fiji has also improved in their scrums, an improvement that has not gone unnoticed by the Wallabies.

Australia’s coaching saw an improved Fiji first hand last Friday night, heading to Twickenham to watch the tournament opener.

Larkham said the strength of the Fijian set piece might have been a shock to some but it has been a slow burn.

“They were very physical and their scrum was a bit of a surprise for a few people. I think that has been building over the last couple of years. They have got very dangerous backs and in Ben Volovola they have someone who can control the game very well.”

And while the match also gave them a glimpse of England, Larkham said they were firmly concentrating on Fiji.

“We’ve had a bit of a look at some other games but we’ve really only focused on Fiji,” he said.

“We’ll start looking at the other teams in the competition after we get the first couple of games out of the road.”

Wallabies lock Rob Simmons echoed Larkham’s thoughts about Fiji’s improvement, saying the side would be on high alert against the team, who he said had clearly benefitted from a greater preparation time.

“Everyone saw what they did to England...the way they’ve been scrummaging, the way it’s improved.

“They’ve had a couple of months together to start building combinations, which they’ve commented that they haven’t really had before.”

The Fijians have also had a chance to try their combinations in a match setting, with the Australian game their second of the tournament while the Wallabies come in completely fresh.

Larkham says having to wait almost a week after the official start to their tournament underway could prove a key advantage for the side.

Ten days in England has given the Wallabies a chance to acclimatize and absorb the atmosphere, though the conditions won’t likely matter too much under the roof at Millennium Stadium.

““It’s certainly a bonus to get over here, get the jet lag out of our system and feeling the conditions, albeit we are playing under cover,” Larkham said.