Sharpe unconcerned by lineout woes
August 18, 2009
Nathan Sharpe struggled to make an impact at the lineout in Cape Town © Getty Images
Nathan Sharpe still has every faith in the Australian lineout in spite of the fact that the Wallabies were completely dominated in the air by South Africa last Saturday week.
The Aussies were widely lambasted for losing nine lineouts on their own throw during their 29-17 loss in Cape Town, while at the same time failing to put the Springboks set-piece under any pressure at all.
However, Sharpe feels that it would be foolish to read too much into Australia's woes in the air against the reigning world champions, pointing out that their opponents this weekend, New Zealand, also struggled badly at the lineout during their recent two-Test visit to South Africa.
"The lineout's an area where we've been strong in the past so there's no point in getting too over anxious about it. Several things went wrong on top of each other and it had a bearing on the result," he said.
"But there hasn't been a major overhaul. South Africa's got the strongest defensive lineout in the world. They've got four guys over six foot five and they're going to put pressure on across the board. The All Blacks felt that pressure as well. That's an area they'll be working on."
The Wallabies are currently bottom of the Tri-Nations table, with their defeat in Cape Town having been preceded by a 22-16 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland. Sharpe, though, is confident that playing in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd in Sydney will bring the best out of Robbie Deans' troops.
"The guys are excited about playing our first big test on home soil. The two away tests were incredibly disappointing for the team and we'd love to turn that around here," the lock said.
"In every code home ground advantage seems to be fairly prolific at the moment. There's plenty of teams that are doing well at home and I'm not too sure why that is.
"It's the same here for us in Sydney and the guys are very excited about a big test at home. You want to make it as hostile environment as you can."
Meanwhile, Mils Muliaina believes that the loss of star centre Stirling Mortlock to injury is a massive blow for the Wallabies. However, the full-back believes that it is imperative that the Kiwis focus on their own game rather than worrying about their opponents.
"Stirling being out is a massive blow to them. The experience he has, and he's their go-to guy when things aren't going so well," Muliaina said. "But in terms of our approach, we've got a lot of things we need to work on that we haven't quite nailed and this weekend gives us an opportunity.
"It's all about execution. We've got to get our skills right and get a bit more flow in our game. We haven't quite got our rhythm yet. "
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies