Clearly the Wallabies are intent on changing perceptions.
Specifically the one about them having a soft underbelly for a forward pack. Their intention to stamp a physical presence and intimidate opponents at any cost hasn’t gone undetected by the All Blacks, according to Kiwis lock Brodie Retallick.
Michael Cheika’s success with the Waratahs was based on a big, menacing forward pack. They did whatever they had to. Crash, bash and smash was the collective mentality and Will Skelton is expected to lead that crusade against the All Blacks in Sydney this weekend. With a World Cup pool that includes England and Wales, the Wallabies realise they need to front in this area.
”It’s all in the game of footy. You’re going to get guys try outmuscle you. You’ve got to make a stand and match them,” All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick, who is yet to lose to the Wallabies, said. “You can’t be pushed around like that. Every week we talk about the need to be physical and win that battle. This week we need to make sure we step up to the mark as a pack.
“That’s probably where they’ve made huge improvements, around their physicality and their pack. The way the Waratahs play is a combative style – they’re in your face and always running hard at you. Michael has taken that into the Wallabies as their mentality.
The Wallabies are rightly buoyed after successive wins over the Springboks and Pumas. Of course, they never lack for confidence, but their performances this year hint they may finally be ready to fulfil their potential, though Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles and Owen Franks will back themselves to get the better of the Australian scrum.
These final two Tests before the World Cup are sure to produce some heated trans-Tasman antics.
“They play with a lot of physicality. I think that’s something they’ve tried to earmark to try to get them into games and they’re doing it really well,” Conrad Smith said. “The added preparation for a big tournament coming up, both teams would like to really have a strong couple of performances before that.”