Wallabies need to 'buy in' to defensive plans

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies need to believe in their defensive systems, not throw them away, assistant Stephen Larkham says.

Australia missed 48 tackles in their opening 54-34 Bledisloe loss, according to Fox Sports stats, conceding eight tries against New Zealand for the first time since 1936.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika threw his support behind defence coach Nathan Grey after the game and attack coach Larkham said the team would be maintaining this defensive strategy moving forward.

“We'll stick with this strategy,” he said.

“There's not going to be too many changes. We've just got to do things better out on the field.

"We've got to believe in the system that we've put in place so (it's) a relatively young squad, young combinations here together and really our first hit-out with a new strategy in defence, a new way of defence that we're trying to bring in with this team.

"So we need to give the guys a little bit of time and make sure that  they're fully believing in the system.

Returned centre Kurtley Beale echoed Larkham’s view saying every player needed to be working from the same playbook.

“I mean if the coaches have got a good plan then everyone's got  to buy into it and I felt everyone was buying into it,’ he said.

“Just in games when you're out in the game, you're reading and backing your gut instinct and the coaches do back us in those different circumstances.

“When we're all on the same page and everyone's got a good understanding of what we need to do and deliver that then we won't put ourselves in that kind of deficit in that first half.”

It wasn’t just poor defensive reads that coughed up tries, with the Wallabies’ own skill errors gifting Ryan Crotty an intercept in the first half. that ed to Rieko Ioane's second try. 

"You can't shy away from the fact that we certainly missed 48 tackles but we also dropped a lot of ball," Larkham said.

"We dropped a lot of ball under pressure, which resulted in a number of those turnovers

"There's certainly some elements in that first half which we'll have to review and make sure that we're a little bit better with some of our skills.

"In particular, some of our passes and some of our catching under pressure turned the ball over and gave them the opportunity to score those tries in the first half.”

While Cheika said there wouldn’t be too many personnel changes for the second Test in Dunedin, Larkham applauded the effort of Tevita Kuridrani, who replaced Samu Kerevi in the second half.

“I think Tevita had a tremendous game coming off the bench,” he said.

“He was injected relatively early in that second half as a number of guys were to try and add a little bit of energy and I think those guys did a fantastic job.

“We’ll have a selection meeting this afternoon and again tomorrow to make sure we get the right team out there on the weekend.

“There’s no taking away from the fact Tevita had a great game.”

The Wallabies fly to Christchurch on Sunday ahead of Saturday’s second Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin.