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Brisbane Times
Wallabies focus on kick and catch skills to counter Kiwis

Wallabies focus on kick and catch skills to counter Kiwis

Sat August 11, 2012 1:53am

IMPROVEMENTS in the Wallabies' kicking and catching capabilities, and more clinical work at the breakdown are imperative if Australia are to win the major silverware this year.

That's the opinion of the Wallabies coaching co-ordinator Tony McGahan, who has joined the team this season with a new forwards coach, Andrew Blades, and coaching assistant Nick Scrivener.

McGahan, who had a successful career with Munster in Ireland before returning to Australia in June, said the new Wallabies coaches backing up Robbie Deans have focused on working on special key areas.

McGahan said yesterday the area that required improvement was the team's ''high ball receipt and kick-catch skills'', plus raising the level of ''continued pressure around the breakdown area in defence and attack''.

A lot of clues were provided in the Wallabies' 20-6 loss to the All Blacks in last year's World Cup semi-final in Auckland, in particular how New Zealand were able to dominate after ''winning the aerial battle and field position in the first half''.

For some time, the Wallabies have struggled whenever the game has turned into a kicking duel, which has even extended to major difficulties winning both their own and opposition re-starts. In numerous Bledisloe Cup Test matches, the Wallabies have struggled to counter the excellent kicking radar of All Blacks five-eighth Daniel Carter.

While being able to defend the high ball under pressure is a critical asset, so too is the ability to use the midfield kick as an attacking weapon. ''You do get an attacking platform when you're chasing the ball,'' McGahan said.

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