Defensive woes sting Grey

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey says the side’s leaky performance has played on his mind in the days since their 42-8 loss to the All Blacks.

As the man responsible for organising the defence, Grey said he was especially disappointed.

“It's something I certainly pride myself on in terms of the team and I certainly feel disappointed from an individual perspective,” he said.

Tevita Kuridrani and Michael Hooper were the only starting Wallabies who finished with a perfect tackle record on Saturday night, with 17 and 14, respectively, as the side racked up nearly 40 missed opportunities.

Tevita Kuridrani had a mixed game on Saturday. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyGrey said the missed tackle count was ‘uncharacteristic’ of the team but  when asked how they could regroup this week, said it would be easy.

"I think it was 38 (missed tackles). That’s very disappointing and a little bit uncharacteristic, so it’s  a combination of guys not getting their technique right and also new Zealand carrying very strongly,” he said.

“A lot of defence is mental application and that real will and desire to want to get in there and be effective.

“In terms of training we're going to be really focusing on that and having a real clear picture on how we defend.”

The Wallabies were undone in one-on-one defence on the edges, as the All Blacks racked up attacking opportunities.

The Wallabies' wingers were outmuscled against New Zealand. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyWingers Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty made a combined 11 tackles but missed seven more during the night, but Grey said it wasn’t just the players on the wings to blame.

“Often those mistakes and those line breaks, that are made down the edges actually start from around the ruck,” he said.

“It's a combination of ensuring our work at the breakdown's very good and our spacings and our communication's really good and then a clear understanding in what we want to do.”

Grey is one of the few members of the current Wallabies camp who was part of a time when the Australia routinely beat the All Blacks and said this team could still do something about their horror Bledisloe run.

“It's a difficult question,” he said.

Nathan Grey takes the Wallabies' defensive failings personally. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“As a collective we can certainly do something about that.

“We didn't do that on Saturday night and we're very open and honest about that, that we didn't perform to a level that we're happy with.

“It's up to us now as a collective to go about preparing the best way we can and then go over to New Zealand and really see it as a great opportunity to go over there and do something that a number of teams haven't done for a number of years."

While they have been hit by a triple injury blow, with Matt Giteau, Rob Horne and Matt Toomua all set to miss the second Bledisloe, flanker Sean McMahon is likely to be in contention for a spot this weekend, after overcoming a nose infection.