South Africa v Australia, Rugby Championship
Ewen Mckenzie adamant Wallabies improving
September 18, 2013
Australia celebrate their first win under Ewen McKenzie © Getty Images

Ewen McKenzie insists his Wallabies are not a team in crisis, adamant they have realistic hopes of beating South Africa in The Rugby Championship Test at Newlands in Cape Town on September 28.

Ewen McKenzie is content - in public - with the progress of his team

The Wallabies opened their Rugby Championship campaign with consecutive losses to New Zealand, and they were on the wrong end of a 38-12 hammering by the Springboks in Brisbane before posting their first win of the McKenzie era with an unconvincing 14-13 victory over Argentina in Perth. McKenzie's men will reassemble in Sydney on Saturday before embarking on their two-Test tour of South Africa and Argentina, and the coach is confident of more success on the road.

"You can get bogged down in how people want to describe things … I've definitely seen progress in parts of the game, but there are parts that we need to do better at there's no doubt about that," McKenzie said.

Pressed on his side's hopes of avenging their last-start loss to the Springboks, McKenzie replied: "We just played a little bit too laterally [in Brisbane] and we had other ideas which we never quite got to. We just sort of got stuck in lateral mode, but we were competing; if you remember the game, it was 19-12 and I think Christian Leali'ifano dropped the ball after we made a line break so if you go 19-all with 20 minutes to go that's a different game. Instead they scored two tries and we missed ours and they ended up with a handsome score line.

Australia's James Slipper and Michael Hooper reflect on the loss, Australia v South Africa, The Rugby Championship, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, September 7, 2013
The Wallabies were devastated by the manner of their defeat in Brisbane © Getty Images

"It's not like we're way out of their league. You've just got to make sure you get those moments right."

McKenzie stressed the importance of muscling up against the Springboks pack after losing the physical battle in Brisbane, and he said that all four teams were still coming to terms with the new scrum laws being trialled in The Rugby Championship.

"It is very different with the hooker striking," he said. "It sounds simple but there is a lot of different mechanics in there at the moment so it's not so simple just to suddenly go out there and do it differently. Some teams have adapted better, there's a lot of subtle stuff that [is] going on as people work through it from a coaching point of view and look for opportunity.

"If you look across Europe a lot of teams are doing different things, so we're in that sorting-out period. I think by the time you get to the end of next season, and the European clubs have had a crack at it, someone will work out the best way to take advantage of it and no doubt the referees will go and tweak it again anyway."

Christian Leali'ifano is improving with each game in the green and gold © Getty Images
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