Wallabies on the hunt for balance

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies won't be throwing caution to the wind in the Rugby Championship, but they might be putting it on the boot, flyhalf Bernard Foley says.

A constant talking point through the June series, the Wallabies’ ball in hand attacking approach was shut down quickly by England, as they fell to a 3-0 series loss.

Foley said the Wallabies would be looking to adapt their game, though not abandoning the attacking philosophy that Michael Cheika has instilled in the team.

“It's not that we don't do the practice or we don’t hone those skills,” he said.

“It's probably just that the game plan has probably been steered towards being more attacking with ball in hand and now we know that's not always effective in Test match rugby and we've got to find ways to win games.

“So, using our kicking game is a way that we can challenge defences differently and maybe do something that they don't expect us to do.”

Foley pointed to the Reds’ 2011 Super Rugby Championship side as an example of a myth-busting Australian side that used kicking as a major weapon.

“You just look at the Reds when they won the competition in 2011, how well they utilised their kicking game,” he said.

The Queensland Reds led some of the kicking statistics in their championship season. Photo: Getty Images“Very efficient, very smart with it.

“And so for us, we're looking to have a balanced game plan where we can challenge defences through our kicks, through our runs and also when their passing game's on.”

Will Genia and Quade Cooper were the driving force behind that team five years ago, but Foley still appears to have first rights to the Wallabies playmaking spot.

One key advantage that this Wallabies squad has over the June makeup is a full complement of backline players from day one, including their returned European contingent.

That strength, Foley said, had been noticeable as Bledisloe preparations ramp up.

“That's probably the best game simulation we can have, is having those two backlines and competing for every moment,” he said.

“Having the experience of the guys from overseas is helpful for everyone - just in the way they approach the games, the way we’ve been looking at how we want to play especially in these first two games against the Kiwis has been really helpful for myself.

“The competition at training has definitely gone up another level since they’ve been here.”

Mick Bryne is already stuck into his Wallabies duties. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyNew national skills coach Mick Byrne will be a key part of the Wallabies’ attacking evolution but said he wasn’t trying to change the world in his first weeks on the job.

“We're just looking at the overall attacking game and right now for me coming in, it's only early days and I'm trying to get a real understanding about the way that we play and how I can help every player in the role they've got,” he said.

“Right now, there's a whole broad range of skill sets we've been working on and as I said the players have been great at adapting to everything we tried to do.”

The Wallabies will finish their Central Coast camp on Friday, ahead of the first Bledisloe on August 20 at ANZ Stadium, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST.