McKenzie wants Wallabies to be clinicalComment on this story
Sydney – Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie named an unchanged line-up Tuesday for this week's return clash with the All Blacks after ending the world champions' 17-match winning streak last weekend.
McKenzie kept faith with his players after Saturday's 12-12 in Sydney – the opening game of both the Rugby Championship and the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup – which denied New Zealand a record 18th straight Test win.
Australia's task is huge, having not won at Auckland's Eden Park for 28 years. New Zealand have won 32 straight games against all opposition at their spiritual home dating back to 1994.
Australia, after 12 years in the Bledisloe Cup wilderness, will now look to break their Auckland jinx and avoid defeat in the third match of the series in Brisbane on October 18.
“We were impressed with the pressure we were able to apply in the opening Test and, despite some errors, were pleased with the intent of the group to continue attacking despite the poor weather conditions,” McKenzie said.
“I imagine both teams are excited by the prospect of a dry evening in Auckland on Saturday night, which will have an influence on the way the game is played.
“For us, we know we need to be more clinical in certain areas, but overall we feel the same group of guys deserve the opportunity to have another crack.”
McKenzie resisted calls to reinstate Bernard Foley at fly-half to retain Kurtley Beale as Australia's chief playmaker, and also kept faith in the new wing partnership of Rob Horne and Pat McCabe.
Beale kicked all of Australia's points in the first Test and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies' attack.
“Selection is never easy, although we've made a lot of tough decisions in this space over the past 12 months with the ultimate goal of winning games,” he said.
“You're always looking to improve and I'm confident the sum of those hard choices has put us in a better position today.
“While we didn't quite get there on Saturday night, I do know that we've made good progress since our first Test against New Zealand a year ago.
“That gives us some confidence heading into what will be an extremely tough challenge in Auckland on Saturday night.”
Despite the odds being stacked against them at the Eden Park fortress, McKenzie said his players would not be daunted by the venue's history.
Under McKenzie, the Wallabies have had some close defeats to the All Blacks leading up to the latest draw, and he believes the gap between the two southern hemisphere rivals is closing.
“Recent results would suggest Eden Park hasn't been a happy place for Australia and already this week we've seen that not many people are giving us a chance in Auckland,” he said.
“Sporting records are there to be broken and we'll look forward to the opportunity of playing the All Blacks in their own backyard on Saturday night.”
Australia (15-1) - Israel Folau; Pat McCabe, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne; Kurtley Beale, Nic White; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy; Rob Simmons, Sam Carter; Sekope Kepu, Nathan Charles, James Slipper
Replacements: James Hanson, Pek Cowan, Ben Alexander, Will Skelton, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani – Sapa-AFP