Australia v British & Irish Lions, 2nd Test, June 29
Rod Macqueen backs Wallabies
June 28, 2013
Christian Lealiifano is key to the Wallabies backline © Getty Images
The Wallabies are perfectly positioned to defeat the British & Irish Lions in Melbourne on Saturday night to level the Tom Richards Cup series, former Australia coach Rod Macqueen says.
The Wallabies lost the opening Test in Brisbane and head to Etihad Stadium needing victory to keep the three-match series alive, just as Macqueen's team did in 2001. Twelve years ago, Wallabies winger Joe Roff scored two second-half tries, including an intercept that changed the momentum of the game, as Australia claimed a 35-14 win before taking the decider in Sydney.
The Rugby World Cup 2003-winning coach said the biggest difference this year was the fact the Wallabies almost pinched the opening Test while his side was stunned 29-13. Macqueen said his team had been shocked by the ferocity of the Lions and their massive "sea of red" support, but the current side had handled the occasion well. They were in the game last Saturday until the final whistle despite a huge injury toll in their backline, with Kurtley Beale missing two late penalty kicks that could have turned the two-point result.
Macqueen believes key players such as inside centre Christian Lealiifano must stay on the field for the Wallabies to play to their strengths. Lealiifano was concussed in the opening minute and took no further part in the game in Brisbane.
"With the loss of their ball-runner, they weren't able to use a lot of the tactics they practised during the week so I suggest that the Wallabies are looking pretty good this time around," Macqueen said. "They'll be using Israel Folau, in particular, and Beale a lot more, coming in from the blind wing and fullback, and they've got two ball players now to utilise so it will be quite a different game. You'll see different tactics coming from the Wallabies this time."
Macqueen warned, however, that the Lions would also be better for the outing as they strive to win their first series since 1997 in South Africa. He said they would be furious at the breakdown to try to deprive the Wallabies of quick ball. "The Lions know they need to step up. They will be disappointed with some of their set plays last week, and they need to get on top of that."
Wallabies legends review the 2001 series