Rugby: Last will mean a drop in rankings

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

It's not surprising that the prospect of being the first Wallabies coach to collect the Rugby Championship wooden spoon doesn't sit well with Ewen McKenzie.

That's the fate awaiting his Australians if they don't beat Argentina in their final round clash at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito stadium in Rosario tomorrow.

A loss of 15 points or more would relegate Australia from fourth to sixth - behind France and Wales - in the world rankings - a low since the system was introduced in 2003.

McKenzie said the team was focused on performing well and winning, rather than where it left them in the Rugby Championship standings.

"There's not much point in filling their [the players'] heads with the negatives," McKenzie said.

"We look at this as an opportunity to beat Argentina here.

"This has never been an easy place for Australia to play, so you concentrate on that bit instead of worrying about the what-ifs or the negatives."

While the Argentines have not toppled the All Blacks or Springboks, they have beaten Australia four times in 20 tests, the last in 1997 in Buenos Aires.

The Wallabies won 25-19 in Rosario last year, but they know the Pumas are pumped up after giving world champions New Zealand a shake last weekend.

McKenzie has had a brutal initiation since taking over the test coach role from Robbie Deans in July, with only one win in the series, against Argentina in Perth.

The former Wallabies prop said he was under no illusions it would be an easy ride given the turnover in the players and their transition to his new demands as coach.

He felt they were tracking slightly more slowly than he'd hoped, but he was in it for the long haul.

"You can gloss over those sorts of things but I tend to look at the business in its totality.

"To set it up properly and give us a decent platform to go forward there's a few hard decisions.

"That doesn't mean that I'm happy with results because I'm as impatient as everyone."

McKenzie was part of Australia's 1991 World Cup-winning team and has had plenty of success as a coach, including steering the unheralded Reds to the 2011 Super Rugby title.

"Through my career I haven't spent a lot of time losing so I don't enjoy it, but it's what it is at the moment and I know it won't stay that way."

- AAP

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