McKenzie aims for five from five
October 25, 2013
Michael Hooper has been the most consitent player for the Wallabies and believes that the Wallabies have improved © Getty Images
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has some pretty simple goals heading into his first Spring tour, "We're out there to win - five wins would be good," McKenzie told reporters on checking in at Sydney International Airport on Friday.
"We're not out there to come second so we're out there to win every game and obviously get some consistency. Winning one game is not enough. We've got to win consistently."
Five wins would give the Wallabies their first grand slam in nearly three decades, a fair target for a squad determined to restore pride after a difficult 2013 in which they managed just three Test wins from 10 attempts.
It is the squad's second tour of the Home Nations since their one and only sweep in 1984, when coach Alan Jones and skipper Andrew Slack led them to a startling triumph - legendary five-eighth Mark Ella scoring a try in all four Test wins. Their last attempt in 2009 failed in just the second match when they drew 20-20 with Ireland.
A five-from-five result would represent some measure of revenge after this year's devastating series loss to the British & Irish Lions. It would also provide McKenzie with a massive springboard towards the 2015 World Cup in England. Their first and toughest stop on the road to redemption will be London's Twickenham Stadium next Saturday, when they'll face England before travelling to Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
McKenzie said he could feel momentum building in the squad on the back of an "encouraging" performance against the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend, coupled with their 54-17 thumping of Argentina earlier this month.
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"All the players can feel that," he said. "There's a lot of things going on behind the scenes within the group, all positive things, so this tour will be a great opportunity for us as a group to work hard and get some good results."
Despite that 41-33 loss to a typically clinical New Zealand, Australia's 33 points broke the record for their highest score against the All Blacks on home turf. Costly handling errors and sloppy breakdown work were offset by moments of free-flowing play in which five-eighth Quade Cooper played his best game of the season, with 18 points and a 100 per cent kicking return.
"There's been encouragement in all of their games but, ultimately, you can only talk about the scoreboards," McKenzie said. "The scoreboards haven't been kind to us, but there's been a lot of positives from the coach and player perspective.
"In the end, we've just got to pull that together, we've just got to tidy up things that keep repeating and there's been a few of those things that we'll target on this tour."
Flanker Michael Hooper, who collected the John Eales Medal on Thursday night, pointed to defence as the key against a strong England side. "We're starting to put things together, our backs are starting to fire and I think we've still got a long way to improve so we've come out with some good results on the back of not our best performances. Playing a different style of rugby is a good challenge for us."
McKenzie aims for five wins to take the grand slam