Revamped attack, Kerevi return big ticks for Spring Tour: Genia

by Sam Phillips

An improved Bledisloe showing was underpinned by a return to the attacking shape which held the Wallabies in good stead against their arch rivals 12 months ago, according to Will Genia.

While the Wallabies could only manufacture 20 points from their seven linebreaks in Yokohama there is no question they looked sharper in attack against the All Blacks than they had in both Sydney and Auckland.

The Genia-Bernard Foley-Kurtley Beale combination clicked and subsequently caused constant defensive headaches for the world champions.

The a performance far closer to the showings in Dunedin and Brisbane 12 months ago and that was largely due to a change in the point of attack.

The Australians have looked to play behind the first line of ball runners and out the back far too often so far this year.

Going around a team before making any inroads in the middle of the field is often fraught with danger and a sense of predictability had crept into their shape.

The loss to South Africa in Port Elizabeth was a turning point on this front.

The Australians found plenty of space out wide but the long, looping cutouts to the sideline allowed the Boks to scramble and make tackles which stifled the threat at hand.

Both Beale and Foley are at their best when they take the line on and there has been a specific emphasis placed on doing exactly that against Argentina and now, the All Blacks.

"We've got some of the best carrying tight forwards in the game," Genia said.

"Guys like Allan, Keps, Scotty, Folau, Tolu.

"We have spoken a lot about utilising that strength and then later on the variation coming by playing out the back.

"The forwards using their tips, playing balls out the back or we go out the back from 9 to 10.

"It's been a focus for us... getting them in the game.

"And when we get out the back we found some space on the edges."

Cue Wallabies fans asking where that kind of attack had been all Rugby Championship.

It's a justifiable question, too.

Why move away from an attacking shape which produced 31 points per game last year, compared to the 20 per game manufactured this year?

Because of Ireland.

"It's no secret that we changed the way we played a lot in the June series against Ireland," Genia said.

"We played with width from the get go.

"Off set piece and unstructured play.

"Now we have adjusted back to how we played before... which is getting the forwards going through the middle then playing off the back of that.

"It took us a little time to adjust but we are here now and the boys are doing it well."

With the attack seemingly back on track the return of Samu Kerevi can only boost spirits.

He was one of the Wallabies' best players in Yokohama despite only playing just over 20 minutes.

He busted tackles, hit the line at full tilt and looks to have put the ruptured biceps injury behind him.

"I said it during the week that if you have a guy like Izzy you just try to put him in space... It's the same with a guy like Samu," Genia said

"You give him the ball in tight and he is going to do amazing things.

"He carries the ball really well, he's strong in contact.

"It's awesome to have him back not just as a player but a guy on the team. He's a great person."

Jack Dempsey's return can't hurt either.

Like Kerevi, he doesn't appear to have missed a beat despite 12 months away from the Test rugby arena.

The pair will be integral parts of the Spring Tour campaign in which Genia has set his sights high.

"We go out there to win every game," he said.

"Some blokes are afraid to say it but we go out there to win every game.

"We go in there to win every single time. We come here and want to win every single time.

"We are going to Wales, we are going to England and that's the mindset that we have.

"The difference for me is that I feel like there is growth in particular areas of our game that we have put focus on and defence is one of those.

"There is belief growing in how we want to do things."