McKenzie impact has All Blacks wary
August 13, 2013
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster is expecting renewed vigour from the Wallabies (Getty) © Getty Images
New revolution or placebo effect - Ewen McKenzie's impact on the Wallabies has the All Blacks coaches on alert ahead of the Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney.
New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster admits McKenzie's arrival in place of former Australian coach Robbie Deans makes preparation for the Rugby Championship opener on Saturday more taxing. Even if McKenzie hasn't had the time to institute major changes, Foster is wary that the Wallabies players will be riding a natural high through the presence of a fresh face at the helm.
McKenzie on Monday emphasised the importance of putting Australia's poor recent record against the All Blacks behind them. He says New Zealand are in transition player-wise, which makes them vulnerable.
"There's lots of talk over there and clearly they see it as a new start," Foster said. "They're trying to inject enthusiasm into their group."
The All Blacks coaches have divided their analysis time evenly. Time has been spent watching recent Queensland Reds matches under McKenzie as well as the Wallabies' mixed performances in the 2-1 series loss to the British & Irish Lions.
Anticipating how drastically McKenzie will alter the relatively-conservative Deans style is difficult, Foster says.
"On the international stage, it's new for him (McKenzie) and it's a pressure situation," he said. "We've watched teams that he does coach, play, and picked up some things. But we've got to be smart enough to adapt if something new does come to us."
Foster says it is easier to predict the Australian mindset. He believes they will be stung by the Lions defeat and will mount a challenge similar to last year's opening clash in Sydney, where the error-prone All Blacks won a gritty Test 27-19.
"Going back 12 months, forget who the coach was, it was a very tough game for us. It's going to be a big occasion. It's important for them but it's equally very important for us, winning the Bledisloe is a key goal."