Wallabies scrum up to All Blacks challenge
Prop Benn Robinson has declared the Wallabies scrum will be up to the challenge of confronting the All Blacks, who will have their World Cup-winning front row back in harness this Saturday in the opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship Test.
Hooker Keven Mealamu, who missed the first two Tests against Ireland in June with a calf injury, and came off the bench for the third, has been named in the starting line-up for the ANZ Stadium encounter.
It will be the first time since the World Cup final win over France last October that Mealamu and props Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks will start as a unit.
The trio boast a combined tally of 213 Tests, with Mealamu (93) and Woodcock (86) the most-capped All Blacks hooker and prop respectively.
Australian scrum anchor Robinson said New Zealand had always proven a very tough challenge in that department and he expected it to be a big factor this weekend.
“They’ve always been a good scrum. For us, it’s a scrum we enjoy packing against – they’re No.1 at the moment,” Robinson said.
“Looking at their selections, they’ve gone with a fairly experienced pack.
“How I see it is that it looks like they are really keen to scrummage out there.
“It always comes down to a few scrums. We’ve seen in recent years, a few scrums have gone either way for us.
“We’re pretty excited about it. As a front row, we love scrummaging – we love packing against the best in the business, so we’re up for the challenge.”
Australia will look to counter the New Zealand front row with the all-NSW trio of props Robinson and Sekope Kepu and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.
“It’s good to have that familiarity,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Australia definitely had scope for improving their scrummaging following the three-Test whitewash of Wales in June.
“I’ve always spoken about since I’ve been here about making sure our scrum has been consistent,” Robinson said.
“The more we can take the referee out of the game, the more we can bring it back into our hands – the better it’s going to be for us.”
Robinson, who missed the last trans-Tasman clash in the 2011 World Cup semi-final due to a knee injury, stressed the All Blacks had plenty of weapons apart from the scrum.
“There’s so many areas where they’re a good side,” Robinson said.
“You can’t just focus on Richie (McCaw) at the breakdown or the back three and how good they are,” Robinson said.© AAP 2013
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