I have been fascinated by calls of late questioning the selection of Ewen McKenzie as coach of the Wallabies following his first three test matches. There is only one person I blame for the poor form of the Wallabies and it is not Ewen McKenzie: blame for Australia’s poor form has to rest with Robbie Deans.
McKenzie has had, since the end of the Super Rugby season less than two months to work this Wallabies team into a team that plays, for want of a better term, the “McKenzie Way”. It is ridiculous to suggest that the Wallabies were going to be able to magically erase 5 years of Deans’ coaching and strategy in such a short time frame.
Even with the injection of new players there are still a significant number of players in this current team who were schooled in the game at test level by Deans. McKenzie needs time to mould this team into his own image and to his own style of play. The move to drop Will Genia is an important part of McKenzie stamping his authority on the team, indeed it is more important that the return of Quade Cooper in my view.
We need to give McKenzie some time without knives in his back: to even the least ardent of Wallabies fans it must have been obvious that immediate improvements were a pipe dream and now we know that to dream to be a reality. Let’s assess the start of the McKenzie “era” at the end of the Rugby Championship or even after the end of season Northern Hemisphere tour. By then we will know whether McKenzie’s midas touch as a coach, as we saw at the Reds, translates to the international game.
In the meantime, here’s hoping that Australia win and win well against Argentina this weekend in Perth. To lose will only increase the disharmony in the ranks of the fans, if nothing else.