Lynagh: Lack of depth hurting Wallabies

Sat, 08 Oct 2016 07:35

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wallaby legend Michael Lynagh believes a lack of depth lies behind Australia's post World Cup slump.

Michael Cheika's men return to Twickenham on Saturday for their Rugby Championship finale against Argentina in their first match at 'headquarters' since a World Cup Final defeat against New Zealand just over a year ago.

Few would have forecast then that loss would mark the start of a run of six straight defeats for Australia, albeit all the games concerned were against the world champion All Blacks and a resurgent England coached by former Wallaby boss Eddie Jones.

Australia head into this weekend's match in London having won just twice in eight games, with the initial optimism engendered under Cheika, who took charge following the shock resignation of Ewen McKenzie in October 2014, now a thing of the past.  

"We thought that under difficult circumstances, the team and Michael Cheika performed very well to get to the final," Lynagh, 52, told AFP in an interview.

"They played good rugby and it's not that much different to the team that's been trotted out this year," explained former flyhalf Lynagh, a key member of the Wallabies' 1991 World Cup-winning side.

Lynagh, whose 911 points in 72 Tests remains an Australia record, added, however: "There's been some issues. [David] Pocock hasn't played a lot of games and he was arguably one of the players of the tournament at the World Cup.

"The England games we were down to our fifth inside centre which, when you are a nation such as Australia that struggles with depth, is not great and it's the same now.

"When you look at them, [Matt] Giteau, [Kurtley] Beale, [Matt] Toomua and [Christian] Lealiifano are all out."

Last week's 10-18 defeat against South Africa was typical of Australia's recent problems, with the normally efficient Wallabies failing to make their pressure count.

"When you get more than 50 percent of the ball, you look at the Wallabies and you think they are going to score a lot of tries - that was the case at the World Cup - and they normally win games," said Lynagh.

"But it's been a real struggle this year to score tries. Whether that's because oppositions have worked them out, whether they don't have enough versatility in their armoury, we've yet to see.

"But we are in a rebuilding phase. We lost six in a row there but all six of them to the number one and number two teams in the world [New Zealand and England] so it's not too bad."

Argentina head into Saturday's match with just one win, over South Africa, in this season's Rugby Championship.

But Lynagh insisted the Pumas, defeated by Australia at Twickenham in last year's World Cup semifinal, will still be one of the "teams to beat" at the 2019 edition in Japan.

Right now, he reckons they are paying the price for the first season of the Jaguares team - the Argentina side in all but name - in the Super Rugby club competition.

"They had a tough Super Rugby tournament - it was their first time in there and I think players dealing with the travel and it's a long season and it's always the same group of players," Lynagh said.

"They wanted to incorporate more teams and I think that's diluted the product a little bit.

"I can understand wanting Argentina to be there, but when you've got an extra South African team, another Australian team and a Japanese team who play home games in Singapore as well. More is not necessarily better.

"But Argentina play a pretty good brand of rugby. They are pretty dangerous and they've been very close (to more wins) and they'll go close again on Saturday.

"I think that with teams in both these championships, they will really benefit and they will be one of the teams to beat at the next World Cup."

Television analyst Lynagh, who overcame a life-threatening stroke in 2012, finished his playing career with London club Saracens, now the reigning English and European champions.

Saracens boss Mark McCall has led criticism of last week's England training camp - which included a judo session- that saw Wasps flanker Sam Jones break his leg and Bath wing Anthony Watson fracture his jaw.

"It's just ludicrous," said Lynagh. "You can't have a guy playing for Saracens or whoever on a Sunday, then going doing judo sessions on Monday and Tuesday and then playing Wasps on a Saturday. It's just too much."

Agence France-Presse

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Fri, 27 April 2018
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Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
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Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
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Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 6 6 0 0 28
Australia 6 2 2 2 15
South Africa 6 2 2 1 14
Argentina 6 0 0 6 0