Australia aim to end dismal run by outmuscling Italy’s Roman legions
Ewen McKenzie wants to beat Azzurri by taking them on at their own game
Rob Simmons has been brought in to beef up the Australia pack. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has revealed the Wallabies will seek to outmuscled Italy when the rivals collide in Turin today. To beef up his pack, McKenzie has selected secondrow Rob Simmons at blindside flanker in the hope of beating the Azzurri at their own game.
“We’ve had a look at Italy and we want to take them on at what they’re good at,” McKenzie said.
“They’re good at scrummaging, they’ve got a good line-out and driving play.
“Selecting Simmons will give us excellent lineout options in attack and pressure in defence, but it also gives us a really good scrum outcome in terms of generating power there.
“It’s a matter of where you try to beat Italy. They’ll perceive their forward pack as very important to how they go about their game.
“If we can actually get in amongst that and create some physical and mental pressure in that space, then that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Australia opened their five-match European tour with a 20-13 defeat to England at Twickenham and have now lost eight out of their past 11 matches. It is a bleak spell in the Wallabies’ history, but McKenzie insists their fortunes can quickly change.
“You can go back and look at previous times in Australian rugby. There are low moments at a bunch of points in time, then in two years there have been the highest,” he said.
“I’m not saying there’s a two-year plan, I’m just saying that sometimes there’s pain and things come out of it.
“Hard decisions get made and people answer the call. None of that makes me any less anxious about winning. I don’t enjoy the situation, but I know you have to fight through it. It’s a test of character.”
Italy have yet to beat Australia in 14 previous matches dating back to 1983 and fullback Luke McLean fears the Wallabies’ recent disappointments may have a galvanising effect.
“Sometimes it’s easier when opponents come off wins, when they’re a little over-confident,” said McLean. Australia have their backs to the wall and there’s only one way they can go and that is forward.”