Rugby: Wallaby coach eyes their own run of wins

By Jamie Pandaram

Ewen McKenzie. Photo / Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie. Photo / Getty Images

Forget the All Blacks' attempt to break the world record for most wins in succession, Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie plans a record of his own.

McKenzie is eyeing Australia's all-time record of 10 wins in a row this year, with his side currently sitting on seven successive victories.

Most focus leading up to the next month's opening Bledisloe Cup test between the transtasman rivals will be on New Zealand's pursuit of 18-straight victories, never achieved by a major test nation.

But McKenzie's plan, with Australia not having held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003, gives the greatest indication so far in his year-long tenure at the helm about his aggressive plans.

The 3-0 whitewash over France in June, following four victories to end the 2013 spring tour, put Australia on a streak not achieved since the Rod Macqueen era in 2000.

"I said to the players, 'You're in some rare company in terms of Australian rugby'," McKenzie told the Sunday Telegraph.

"That doesn't sound like much to people but we bump into the All Blacks regularly and it's been hard to get momentum in the last 11 years.

"Not only have we got the chance to compete with the Bledisloe on the line, but we also get a chance to extend that number of seven.

"They're the type of things that are hard to achieve, but you get that by doing some spectacular things on the field against the next opposition - two in a row against the All Blacks and then the Springboks.

"To get to 10 would be a fair achievement.

"All we can do is set ourselves up for that, and I think we can set ourselves up pretty well. We've got our own little winning streak going, we'd like to keep that going.

"If the All Blacks want to get distracted by [their record attempt], or if that becomes a millstone around their neck, well fine. But we won't be talking about that."

The All Blacks and South Africa jointly hold the world record for tier one nations with 17 wins in a row each.

New Zealand achieved the feat in 1965-69, and South Africa matched it with their all-conquering side of 1997-98.

The All Blacks have come close three times in the past eight years before falling short.

They put together 15 wins in a row in 2006, 15 in succession in 2010and in 2012 put together 16 wins in succession before they were foiled by the Wallabies, who scraped out an 18-18 draw in Brisbane.

The All Blacks, who went undefeated through 2013, want to be the first team in history to go unbeaten for two years and, after seeing off England 3-0 in June, will arrive in Sydney for the August 16 Bledisloe showdown with history in their sights.

But with the Waratahs and Brumbies having made the Super Rugby semifinals - the first time two Australian sides have featured in the final four since 2002 - there's a growing air of confidence in Australia.

"We'll get confidence out of what the Super Rugby teams, and confidence out of what the Wallabies have been doing," McKenzie said.

"That's about all we can muster, apart from tactics on the day and getting our selections right.

"We've set ourselves up to do better than we have in the past.

"Now it's about getting out there and doing it."

- Herald on Sunday

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