If Australia fall short at this Rugby World Cup it won’t be because of chinks in their tight forward play.
That assessment came from a team who know a good scrum and lineout when they see it – Georgia – whose leading figures declared the Wallabies are among the world’s finest set piece exponents.
Australian coach Michael Cheika looks set to tell his team to keep running and passing when they play in next week’s quarter-finals.
Before then, he hopes to have found a solution for their patchy attacking rhythm.
Yet in the eyes of veteran Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze, the Wallabies’ strength lies with the bigger bodies of the tight five.
The Eastern Europeans pack some clout of their own at scrum and lineout time yet they were monstered off the park in Shizuoka on Friday.
“Lineout, Australia are a very strong team, I’m pretty sure their analysis is one of the best in the world. They knew what we were going to do,” Sharikadze said.
“In the scrum, they’ve improved a lot. They didn’t used to be the best team in the scrum but I reckon now they’re one of the best teams in the world.”
Departing Georgia coach Milton Haig scouted plenty of tier one sides during his eight-year tenure and rates the Wallabies highly up front.
It’s why he’ll take it as an insult if critics lay into Cheika’s team for the way they struggled to break down The Lelos’ watertight defence.
“If they’re going to take a slating from their media, I think that’s definitely disrespectful to us,” Haig said.
“They’re fit, they’re a very good side, they’ve got good set piece now. Their lineout is very good. Even their maul now, they’ve developed that over the last wee while.”
It was no surprise the player of the match came from the Wallabies tight five, although second-rower Izack Rodda played down the individual award, believing honours should be shared between his forwards comrades.
One of the best young players in the Australian game, he believes the pack is being primed to deliver a big performance against likely opponents England in the October 19 quarter-final.
“Our forward pack’s been improving since the Rugby Championship and I’m really happy with how we’re going in lineout and scrum. We’re starting to really gel as a pack,” Rodda said.
“I think we have a skilful forward pack, very dynamic.”