Ewen McKenzie accepts need for 'big decisions'
September 8, 2013
Quade Cooper had no answers in Brisbane © Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie will place every facet of the Wallabies' play and culture under the microscope to avert a crisis in Australian rugby, declaring he will leave no stone unturned as he looks to grab the demanding sporting public with an innovative and attractive game.
The Wallabies have won just one of their six Tests this season, and they were routed 38-12 by South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday - a defeat that extended the losing run to four matches. They now must regroup and muscle up against Argentina in Perth on Saturday to avoid a fifth consecutive loss - a run not seen since Eddie Jones' ill-fated last year in charge in 2005 - and, most likely, the Rugby Championship wooden spoon.
The Springboks overpowered McKenzie's injury-hit pack at the breakdown and scrum, and Australia's highly touted backline failed to deliver the flair or precision expected. The Boks' backs, instead, showed the skill required in the big moments to break their Suncorp Stadium duck in style with the record four-try away win.
Former Wallabies captain Michael Lynagh despaired so much at what he saw that he lamented the team lacked any kind of promise and were "getting worse".
"We didn't look like scoring, our defence was very poor - something that has been a factor for the last few games - our scrum has gone backwards, our attack is too predictable and there were many handling errors," Lynagh said on Sky Sports.
"Australia are in a huge hole and I think that is because they have got too comfortable."
The Wallabies scored just 15 tries from 15 Tests in 2012, and they have scored only seven from six Tests in 2013 - contributing to a noticeable drop in crowd numbers. McKenzie was hailed as a saviour for the code in Australia after the axing of Robbie Deans following after the British and Irish Lions series loss, but he accepts that he may need to shelve or simplify his up-tempo attacking plans. The former Queensland Reds mentor said there were no soft options, however. Nor a quick fix. He felt errors in judgement rather than skill undermined a game plan that proving to be too high-risk for his under-strength side against the likes of the All Blacks and the Springboks.
The Wallabies may revert to "boring" rugby%]
"I'm confident about [developing our game] but we're too far away from where we need to be at the moment," McKenzie said. "We need to turn stones over everywhere because it's not as though we're losing by one point. There will be some big decisions in there along the way, some big calls, because I'm the first to say if you're not getting the outcomes you need to change something."
The Wallabies trailed by just seven points midway through the second half - 19-12 - but South Africa then scored three tries in eight minutes. McKenzie feared the capitulation was part of a trend after the 47-29 and 27-16 losses to New Zealand in The Rugby Championship, and he noted the need for hard work off the field to improve the culture.
"We have to tough those moments out, too," he said. "This is not just an exercise in playing footy. It's an exercise in teamwork and being a team day-in, day-out."