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Wallabies give Folau a licence to thrill

Wallabies Full-back Israel Folau will try to run the Pumas off their feet

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Article Published: Friday 4 October 2013

Full-back Israel Folau has been given a license to thrill Saturday as Australia seek to avoid the humiliation of becoming Rugby Championship wooden spoonists.

The Wallabies have just four points and hosts Argentina two going into the final fixture of the southern hemisphere national team tournament season.

Whoever wins at the 42,000-seat Estadio Gigante de Arroyito finishes third in a competition completed by New Zealand and South Africa, who clash earlier Saturday in a title decider.

Argentina coach Santiago Phelan hopes his pack can lay the foundations for a first Championship victory after one draw and 10 losses during two seasons since debuting.

But Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has had a tactical change of heart and wants Folau and other backs to try and run the home side off their feet in Rosario.

McKenzie opted for a predominantly field-kicking approach against South Africa last weekend with disastrous consequences as his team turned over 20 points behind and lost by the same margin.

Amid increasing frustration after a fourth defeat in five outings since replacing New Zealander Robbie Deans in mid-year, the Wallabies handler has made a significant change.

Out goes kick-biased scrum-half Nic White and back comes former skipper Will Genia, signalling the adventurous intent of the visitors.

Folau, scorer of the lone Australian try in a dour 14-13 home win over Argentina last month, is excited at the prospect of more ball-in-hand time.

"I thought we were a lot better in the second half against the Springboks when we started to run the ball," he told reporters.

"The issue is finding the right balance -- running when the opportunity arises and kicking for field position when necessary.

"I must try and react to what the opposition presents. I believe that is the best way to play rugby -- playing what happens in front of you.

"We have got some great players in our team who can score tries and finish good movements," added the 24-year-old who made his Test debut this year.

Argentina captain and flanker Juan Manuel Fernandez Lobbe wishes for a different outcome with his pack controlling play and limiting Australian running opportunities.

He will draw encouragement from a 33-15 loss to New Zealand in La Plata last weekend, especially several scrum surges during the opening half.

A late blow for the Pumas was the withdrawal of prop Juan Figallo through a back injury with Juan Pablo Orlandi taking over and Matias Diaz added to the replacements.

"Our defence continues to be very good and our discipline has improved immensely as we gave away fewer penalties than our opponents in all five games," noted Lobbe.

But he was concerned by the lack of try-scoring chances against the All Blacks with the Pumas backs tending to run at opponents rather than seeking space.

"We were not able to create try-scoring opportunities and that is an aspect of our game that must improve," he stressed.

Argentina have scored just five tries in as many Championship Tests this year, and three came from No. 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

Rugby Championship Standings
Nation Games Points    
1. Australia 3 3 0 0 85 48 37 1 13
2. New Zealand 3 2 1 0 85 65 20 1 9
3. Argentina 3 1 2 0 64 98 -34 1 5
4. South Africa 3 0 3 0 65 88 -23 2 2
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