Wallabies focused on kicking game under new attack coach
Scott Wisemantel’s influence has rubbed off ahead of season-opening Test against the All Blacks
Melbourne — Australia is placing more emphasis on kicking in their planning under new attack coach Scott Wisemantel but will not become a “copy and paste” version of England, Wallabies flyhalf Matt Toomua said on Tuesday.
Australian Wisemantel helped Eddie Jones’s England reach the World Cup final in Japan before joining the Wallabies under new coach Dave Rennie.
Toomua said Wisemantel’s influence had rubbed off on the group as they prepare for Sunday’s season-opening Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.
“There’s definitely a little more of a focus there,” Toomua told reporters from Christchurch. “You look at our attacking coach … Scott has just spent a lot of time up in England.
“He’s aware of what an effective kicking game looks like. But once again, we’ve got to keep to our strengths. We can’t just copy and paste from another team because it would be ignoring a few obvious factors that influence it.”
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika largely eschewed the kicking game during his six-year tenure and stuck doggedly to ball-in-hand rugby at the World Cup, saying he would rather lose than “kick and defend” to victory.
The Wallabies were thrashed 40-16 by England to exit at the quarterfinals, their equal-worst finish at the tournament.
Australia have not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001 but claimed a 47-26 win over them in Perth in 2019, when the visitors played the second half with 14 men.
Toomua said that while quick ball and a low turnover count were key to the Perth win, England had shown in the World Cup semifinals that the All Blacks could be beaten with smart kicking and set-piece pressure.
“For us, it’s about finding the right blend, the right mix that will work to our strengths but also will be efficient and work against them,” he said.
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