Rugby: Wellington win will buy coach McKenzie some time

Ma'a Nonu of the All Blacks is tackled by Matt Toomua and Ben Mowen of the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu of the All Blacks is tackled by Matt Toomua and Ben Mowen of the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images

The Wallabies believe a win over the All Blacks in Wellington will buy them time they need to fulfill their potential under new coach Ewen McKenzie before a deciding test in October.

After being humbled 29-47 in Sydney, Australia must beat the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday night to keep alive any hope of wresting back the Bledisloe Cup, which they haven't held since 2002.

They then don't face New Zealand again until after the end of the Rugby Championship, meeting in a third Cup clash on October 19 in Dunedin.

Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper reckons the team will continue to improve significantly under McKenzie in that time.

"We're going to grow as a group so if we can get a win this weekend it will be massive for us," Hooper said.

The 21-year-old said the Wallabies had taken confidence from their performance despite the heavy loss. He said their focus had to be on better ball retention.

Hooper, who also announced he had re-signed with New South Wales and the Australian Rugby Union until 2016, said he believed the Australian pack had the ability to dominate the All Blacks and they needed to up their work-rate.

"We have a good mobile pack and I feel like we can exploit that and really get over the gain line. Hugh McMeniman, Kevvie [James Horwill] and Simmo [Rob Simmons] are all big guys but they keep getting up, keep making tackles, you just want more and more from them."

Hooper admitted the Kiwis had a psychological edge after dominating the Bledisloe series for so long.

"We've got two games now to claw it back and it's going to be tough over there but this group's hungry for success."

He wanted to see the Wallabies back three of Jesse Mogg, Israel Folau and James O'Connor get more involved. Code-jumping winger Folau barely touched the ball.

"You want to see those guys with ball in hand, I know I do," Hooper said. "They've got x-factor written all over them and they're the guys who can score and finish tries."

- AAP

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