McKenzie ponders kick or run tactics

ROSARIO: Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie gave no guarantee Will Genia would regain a starting role for the Rugby Championship wooden-spoon clash against Argentina, despite putting some spark into his slumping team.
Nanjing Night Net

Long-term incumbent halfback Genia has been on the bench for Australia’s last two matches, including the demoralising 28-8 loss at the hands of the rampant Springboks in Cape Town on the weekend.

The Wallabies were down and out after only 19 minutes, trailing 20-3 as they stuck to a kick-at-all-costs mantra that was poorly executed by starting No.9 Nic White.

When Genia came on after half-time they finally switched to a running game and looked far more comfortable as he and Quade Cooper combined to spark the attack.

McKenzie said he was undecided what kind of game plan they would take into the Rosario clash against Argentina on Saturday, although he hoped the side could successfully execute both as required.

‘‘You saw against the Springboks two halves of footy; a kicking half and a running half,’’ said McKenzie.

‘‘Clearly, if we’re playing running footy Will’s our best exponent, but Whitey is with our kicking game so it depends on how we want to pitch the game.

‘‘We looked more comfortable running the ball in the second half, but the ideal game is when you’ve got variety in your game.’’

He acknowledged that Genia, who has captained the side, also offered unparalleled experience, which will be key at an Argentine rugby cauldron.

As for a swag of changes to the squad, McKenzie said the answers lay in the players he had.

‘‘Tell me who the other people are who are going to break the game open and suddenly give us the silver bullet. I think we’ve got the best players available.’’

Australia is ahead of last-placed Argentina on the Rugby Championship ladder going into the final round, but only by two points.

The Wallabies have four points from their sole win over the Pumas in Perth, while the Pumas have no wins but two bonus points.

The Pumas put world champions New Zealand under the pump in their weekend game, leading early in the second half before the All Blacks fired up for a 33-15 victory, which puts them in strong position to clinch the title against South Africa in Johannesburg this weekend.

McKenzie, who has stayed remarkably sanguine despite only having one win in the Rugby Championship, said he didn’t expect the Pumas to stray far from their usual forward-focused style. AAP

PRESSURE: Halfback Nic White tackles Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner on Saturday.

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