Expect running rugby - Wallabies


NZPA     15 Aug 2006     Photosport

Connolly unveils his starting 15 tomorrow before the Wallabies travel to Auckland on Wednesday ahead of a Test they must win to stop the All Blacks sealing the Philips Tri Nations title.

While changes are expected among the forwards, with flanker George Smith and hooker Tai McIsaac reportedly most under threat, the Wallabies' much-criticised tactics are in for a shakeup.

Connolly said there was a method behind their madness when they kicked a mountain of possession away to the Springboks before beating them 20-18 in Sydney on August 5.

He said such an approach would be fatal against the dangerous All Blacks backline.

"They (Springboks) made mistakes and imploded against us in Brisbane (when the Wallabies won 49-0 last month). We thought it might happen again," Connolly told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"It is going to be a completely different game with a different set of tactics against the All Blacks.

"You could not get two teams further apart than the All Blacks and the Springboks."

Incessant kicking would hand the game to the All Blacks because, Connolly said: "That's what they want and they'll run the ball back at you a million miles an hour."

If kicks are made they will hope to find touch and apply pressure to the All Blacks' lineout which has been their weakest link in recent weeks.

Connolly said matches against the Springboks were invariably dour affairs and insisted the All Blacks had not been immune.

"The All Blacks have struggled to score tries against the Springboks," he said.

"They scored two in their first game and both came from bad South African kicks.

"We scored six tries in Brisbane and we have still scored more tries than anyone else in this Tri-Nations series."

The Wallabies had their chances but couldn't crack the All Blacks' defence in a 9-13 loss in Brisbane last month.

Australian reports today predicted a weary Smith would be rested and Waratahs tearaway Phil Waugh given the No 7 jersey, while Jeremy Paul would return to the starting hooker's spot in place of McIsaac.

Lock Nathan Sharpe and flanker Rocky Elsom were also under pressure to retain their places, with Mark Chisholm a possibility to return if either were axed.

The backline is expected to be largely unchanged from the Springboks match, with Waratahs halfback Brett Sheehan recovering from an eye injury suffered at training last week and expected to be named as back-up halfback to captain George Gregan.