All Blacks expect renewed Wallabies verve
July 10, 2013
New Zealand centre Conrad Smith expects the Wallabies to threaten more under Ewen Mckenzie © Getty Images
Veteran All Blacks centre Conrad Smith believes a Wallabies side coached by Ewen McKenzie will provide a greater attacking threat than Robbie Deans could muster.
Smith says the blueprint new Australian coach McKenzie introduced when taking over at the Queensland Reds in 2010 is sure to get an airing in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney next month.
The Queensland Reds have honed their style around the speed and variety of playmakers Will Genia and Quade Cooper, leading them to the 2011 Super Rugby title and into the play-offs in two subsequent seasons.
"The style showed with the Reds, it might affect the way the Wallabies play, which I think will be a big challenge for the All Blacks," Smith said.
The Rugby Championship opener on August 17 will be the first in charge for McKenzie after replacing New Zealander Deans in the wake of the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to the British & Irish Lions. Deans' five-and-a-half years at the helm were marred by a dreadful record against New Zealand.
Australia never threatened to end the All Blacks' decade-long reign as Bledisloe Cup holders, losing 15 of 18 trans-Tasman Tests.
Smith expects McKenzie to restore Cooper at fly-half and to hit the right psychological note with the players coming off their Lions disappointment.
"Generally, when you change the coach under those sort of circumstances, it normally brings a team together and makes them have a bit more fire in the belly," he said.
Ewen McKenzie appointed as Wallabies coach%]
Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett is in no doubt Deans will be in demand as a coach throughout the rugby world. Former hooker Hammett played under Deans at both the Crusaders and the All Blacks before joining him as a Crusaders assistant coach.
Hammett was unsure what the 53-year-old's next move would be after six years in "intense working conditions".
"He'll sit back and reassess," he said. "He'll be a hell of a lot better for the time he spent over there. There's no doubt he's a very valuable man, a valuable coach, but sometimes it doesn't matter if you're doing a good job or a bad job, that's the reality of our position."