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20 Feb 2018 16:56
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby

    Wallabies refuse to panic in face of flak

    The Wallabies won't be overhauling their starting side or new defensive system despite suffering a record-breaking Bledisloe Cup loss to the All Blacks.

    The Wallabies won't rush into panic changes and concede there's no time to overhaul their fractured defensive system before Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash in Dunedin.

    Michael Cheika's men must somehow reverse a 54-34 drubbing in game one in Sydney and fashion a first victory over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since 2001 to keep the series alive.

    Tevita Kuridrani is almost certain to replace the defensively suspect Samu Kerevi at outside centre, while Tatafu Polota-Nau has strong claims to start instead of veteran hooker Stephen Moore after an impressive display off the bench.

    Beyond those changes, though, the Wallabies accept they just need to get better or face further humiliation and a 15th straight year of trans-Tasman despair.

    While the heat is on defence coach Nathan Grey after the Wallabies leaked eight tries against New Zealand for the first time since 1936 and conceded the most points ever against the All Blacks, Cheika is backing his trusted ally "100 per cent".

    Assistant coach Stephen Larkham says every facet of the performance, not just defence, will be reviewed.

    "We certainly didn't want to start the series that way but we're realists; we know there's a number of things we can work on," Larkham said on Sunday.

    "You can't shy away from the fact that we certainly missed 48 tackles, but we also dropped a lot of ball. We dropped a lot of ball under pressure, which resulted in a number of those turnovers.

    "In particular, some of our passes and some of our catching under pressure turned the ball over and gave them the opportunity to score those tries in the first half."

    The Wallabies opted to deploy a new defensive system against the world champions and Larkham says there's no turning back.

    "We'll stick with this strategy. There's not going to be too many changes. We've just got to do things better out on the field," he said.

    "We've got to believe in the system that we've put in place.

    "That comes from a little bit of time in the system. We've got a relatively young combination out on the field, guys who are getting a handle on this system, and they'll be better for that run."

    Kerevi, though, is unlikely to get another run - this week at least - after looking lost in the face of the All Blacks' relentless attacking blitz.

    He was replaced at halftime by Kuridrani as the Wallabies won the second half 28-14.

    "Tevita had a tremendous game coming off the bench," Larkham said.

    "He was injected relatively early in that second half, as a number of guys were, to try and add a little bit of energy and I think those guys did a fantastic job.

    "We'll have a selection meeting this afternoon and again tomorrow to make sure we get the right team out there on the weekend.

    "There's no taking away from the fact Tevita had a great game."

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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