Oz still adapting to McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie (Gallo)
Ewen McKenzie (Gallo)

Cape Town - Australia's players are still learning to adapt to new coach Ewen McKenzie but are in a better position than the last time they played South Africa, hooker Stephen Moore said on Tuesday.

The Wallabies, crushed 38-12 by South Africa in Brisbane earlier this month, face the Springboks again in their penultimate Rugby Championship match of the season at Newlands on Saturday.

Australia are coming off a first win under McKenzie, 14-13 against Argentina in Perth 10 days ago, and Moore said that victory had brought a new confidence to the squad.

"We needed that win, it sure wasn't pretty but it was a good win," he told a news conference. "As with any team, after a win you see the confidence increase and a tough trip like this to South Africa is good for us now.

"We believe we can play well here. It's still pretty early in Ewen's tenure, we are still finding the best game-plan he wants us to play.

"It hasn't been perfect but we are making adjustments all the way and we did better against Argentina," said Moore.

McKenzie took over in July following the departure of New Zealander Robbie Deans.

South Africa need a bonus-point victory to keep up the pressure on New Zealand at the top of the table but Moore is expecting a similar performance to the one the Springboks gave in Brisbane.

"They will stick to the way they know and like to play, winning field position in the game and putting us under pressure in our own half," he explained.

"Our scrum was pretty messy and disappointing the last time and that is something we need to improve."

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggested the Springboks had been overly physical in their 29-15 defeat by New Zealand 10 days ago and accused them of playing 'thugby'.

"You have to play a tough, physical game for 80 minutes," said Australia loose forward Ben Mowen. "The majority of the squad know how physical the game will have to be to take down the Boks in South Africa.

"It is important in a game like this to start well, the start will be ferocious and there will be plenty of balls in the air and physical contact.

"I think there is a feeling within the group that we have not played near our potential yet but this is an exciting challenge for us and a result against the Springboks would be huge," added Mowen.

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