Wallabies banking on Bledisloe change

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies can’t expect wins to come unless they change their ways, lock Kane Douglas says.

Thirteen years of Bledisloe heartbreak will only be undone by adaptation in the Australian setup, something the returning second rower said they were working on.

The signals of change have already emerged, with national skills coach Mick Byrne coming on board and Michael Cheika’s decision to drop Wallabies mainstay Scott Fardy to the bench.

Byrne’s influence has already been significant, Douglas says, and even for those who do the “boring stuff”, skill improvement is crucial against a Kiwi side where forwards offload like backs.

“There's a few things in people's game that we’ve done so we just try and do little bits of skill and hope because you played it so much that in your normal game it just comes naturally,” he said, speaking during the team's Central Coast camp.

“Sometimes it is hard to change those habits, so it will be a sort of a work on for a while I think but it's been good to see another brain working and thinking of new things, which I suppose you need to.

“You can't just do the same thing and hope you get a different result.

“You've got to keep working and keep thinking outside the box.”

The Wallabies aren’t just battling their opposition in this, though, it’s a rugby culture that New Zealand has, where the 15-man game sits above all others.

Their trans-Tasman cousins are ahead of a global curve, one the Wallabies are trying to make ground on, with Cheika looking at various other sports to help their own game, including a training session with NRL side, the Sydney Roosters.

“I think even since Cheik's come along, he sort of thinks outside the box and looks at other sports and things like that,” he said.

“Getting someone like Mick in to help out as well, it's great just [because you] need to try and be ahead of the game, like other teams have been the last few years.

“Even if you change the way little kids want to play as well, that's good as well.

“I think I've heard more this year about how growing up kids play a different brand of footy over there and they get told to throw it around a bit more and things like that.

“II you can keep trying things like that all the time then you're going to get it after a while but from my point of view I'm a second rower I do the boring stuff anyway.

“You've got to make mistakes to get better so we’ve got to keep trying things at training.”

A fear of making mistakes is something the Wallabies are trying to rid themselves of, in a bid to rid themselves of errors under the heat of a Bledisloe Test, or any other for that matter, skipper Stephen Moore said.

“It’s a case of just not being afraid of making mistakes to start with because that has the opposite effect but going out there and playing your game and playing the game that the way we want to play under pressure,” he said.

“The more we can train that, the better you'll go under those circumstances 

“We've tried to create that environment at training over the last three weeks so that when we encounter that pressure in a game then guys are prepared for it.”

Douglas is one of the 13 Australian starters in Saturday’s match who started in last year’s World Cup final, though his tournament was ended abruptly by an ACL injury in just the 15th minute.

After watching on in June, somewhat separated from his teammates, Douglas is ready to change things up and, hopefully for Australia, bring out a different result.

“They've been the best in the world for I don't how long,” he said.

“You always want to knock them off and being such close neighbours to them, it's definitely massive motivation.

“I knew how hard they worked and they were working so it just didn't sort of come off or there was some close games, just little things that let us down.

“Cheik and the coaching staff have been trying to change things up and it's been good."