Rugby Championship
Wallabies must get physical, Andrew Blades says
ESPN Staff
August 28, 2014
Australia failed to match the physicality of New Zealand's forwards in Auckland © Getty Images
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Australia must ramp up their physicality to meet the huge challenge presented by the Springboks, Wallabies set-piece coach Andrew Blades says after the passive effort against New Zealand.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, meanwhile, challenged his team to emulate New Zealand's ability to improve dramatically in one week as well as matching the All Blacks' legendary consistency.

Australia are bottom of the Rugby Championship after failing to win either of their first two matches against the All Blacks, the encouraging 12-12 draw in Sydney followed by a demoralising 50-21 caning at Eden Park in Auckland last week. After having this weekend off, Australia play home games against South Africa in Perth and Argentina on the Gold Coast on successive Saturdays, with the Springboks having won their two games against the Pumas by a combined total of just nine points.

"Very strong scrums, two massive sides especially in the forwards," Blades said of the Wallabies' next two opponents. "Two very physical sides around the breakdown, and that will be the biggest challenge. They challenge every breakdown, and the Springboks have people at every breakdown trying to mess things up. It's going to be a huge physical challenge for us and we've got to be up for it."

Blades felt Australia were too passive in the contact areas in Auckland, and he said they had to rediscover the physicality they displayed during their eight-match unbeaten run prior to their humbling loss in Auckland.

"I think we dropped down our level of physicality which we had in the first Test [against New Zealand]," Blades said. "Our line speed wasn't as good, our maul defence wasn't as aggressive as it had been. Those areas of the game dropped down and we paid the price for it."

Hooper accepted the Wallabies "weren't up to the mark", but he said "we saw what the Kiwis can do in one week and we want to be part of that.

"We want to be able to improve like that in one week. They are the most consistent team in the world and we're chasing to be like that."

Hooper said that he expected "some honest chats" among the Wallabies when they reassembled in Perth on Sunday before the next Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks, but he denied that he felt personal pressure as captain to turn around Australia's rugby fortunes.

"I don't take it on as pressure on my shoulders," Hooper said. "I take it on as a group acceptance that Australian rugby has been successful, so why can't we?"

© AAP

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