Gregan: ‘Why Wallabies can beat the All Blacks’

Former Wallaby captain George Gregan is convinced that Australia can beat the world’s top-ranked team, New Zealand, if they take to heart the lessons they learnt from their narrow (22-19) defeat at the hands of South African last week.

Gregan, in an interview on the latest Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) newsletter, said they are looking forward to meeting the All Blacks in their next Tri-Nations encounter – in Melbourne on June 30.

He said the Wallabies can look forward “with confidence” to the encounter with the Kiwis, following the nail biting defeat against the Boks in Cape Town last week.

“I think you can, as a team, gain confidence from a loss provided you learn the lessons from the game,” told the RUPA newsletter.

“For us last week the lesson is that we need to take our opportunities when they arise because in games of this level and nature they don’t arise often.”

Gregan also spoke about the new found “steely determination” in the Wallaby forward pack, which saw them upstage the South Africans in at least one aspect of the set pieces – the scrums.

He put this down to several things.

“Firstly there is the preparation, hard work and dedication from the players and coaches over the past 12 months towards developing a more physical approach to the game.

“Secondly attitudinally we were in the right head space all week in the lead up to the game.

“Also the Wallabies forwards had been accused in the South African media in the lead up to the game as lacking in certain aspects of the physical nature of the game. It was basically a typical Aussie response to such criticism.”

The often maligned prop Mat Dunning is one of the players who came out of the encounter with the beefy Boks with his reputation enhanced, especially the fact the scrum was competitive against the more fancied South African forward pack.

Gregan felt that while Dunning’s preparation and dedication this year has been “fantastic”, it was more a case of “the whole forward pack” stepping up in the scrums, line-outs and breakdown.

“I don’t like to single players out, but certainly Mat [Dunning] had a strong game and contributed well to the team’s overall performance. Having a strong forward back certainly enables me to work off this around the scrum and breakdown area better than if we were on the back foot.”

Gregan also deflected the praise from pundits who are saying that the return of the old firm of Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock is crucial for the Wallabies’ future success.

“A team is only as good as the contribution of all of its individuals combined,” he told the newsletter.

“The backline can’t perform without the forwards giving quality ball and the forwards can’t perform to their best unless the backs are creating attacking opportunities past the defensive line. I wouldn’t want to say that the old firm is essential for the team’s overall performance but we have played a lot of footy together over the past four years and having those combinations certainly helps.”

Even his own, improved form is put down to a team effort.

“It’s related to the overall performance of the team.

“The forwards created a good platform and the backs are creating the right options. It enables me provide good variety in attack. I am enjoying my defensive game and playing a leadership role in the overall defensive organisation of the team. In fact I am enjoying the game now as much as ever before.”

 

365 Digital

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