Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is under increasing pressure to deliver following his side’s 21-17 loss to Argentina.
Ewen McKenzie doesn’t believe he’s bitten off more than he can chew as his Wallabies face another defining clash with the stewing All Blacks to complete their 2014 domestic Test program.
McKenzie’s Wallabies gained a dubious place in the record books on Saturday night as the Pumas claimed their first-ever Rugby Championship scalp with a stirring 21-17 comeback win in Mendoza.
The defeat, which followed a 28-10 collapse to the Springboks, left Australia’s winning strike rate under McKenzie at just 52 per cent from his first 21 Tests in charge.
More disconcertingly, the Wallabies are only one-from-nine against New Zealand and South Africa and have yet to triumph over the All Blacks in five encounters since McKenzie succeeded Robbie Deans last year.
But it doesn’t get any easier for the Wallabies, or McKenzie, with the All Blacks certain to be smarting from their epic 27-25 loss to the Springboks on Saturday when they arrive in Brisbane for the final Bledisloe Cup Test of the year in two weeks.
Their defeat in Johannesburg ended the world champions’ record 22-match unbeaten streak.
“But I’ve said a thousand times, you love playing the All Blacks and I know how difficult that is and they won’t be any happier for their loss,” McKenzie said.
“But I look forward to the game.”
McKenzie refused to blame Australia’s troubled build-up, chiefly the Kurtley Beale in-flight drama en route to South America last Sunday, for slipping up against the fast-improving Argentines.
“The game is played in the 80 minutes,” he said.
“I can tell you that we arrived 15 minutes late because we were stuck in a traffic jam or whatever. Do you want me to blame that?
“The game’s played on the field and you prepare.
“We had tactics, we had a game plan and we got through all the stuff we needed to get through.
“You’ve got to give some credit to the opposition. You don’t look for excuses.
“There’s things on the field that we can do better.”
Including closing out Tests.
After heading the Springboks into the last 10 minutes in Cape Town, before leaking three late tries, the Wallabies blew an early 14-0 lead against the Pumas at Estadio Malvinos Argentinos.
“We’ve got to find a way to wrestle ourselves back into the game, get momentum turned back into our favour and close a game out like that,” said five-eighth Bernard Foley.
McKenzie, though, will inevitably come under increasing pressure to deliver with the 2015 World Cup fast approaching.
He missed Australia’s training session on Tuesday, the squad’s first of the week, while driving the Wallabies’ business manager Di Patston to the airport.
Patston was distressed after her verbal stoush with Beale and opted to go home.
McKenzie admitted micro-managing a touring party of 42 wasn’t easy – but on Saturday night said he had no plans to cut back his heavy workload.
“That’s life,” he said.
“You’re here with these people 24/7 so you’re managing the whole lot. That’s what you do.
“This is a different competition. People don’t seem to appreciate the complexity of travelling around the world in two weeks – the wrong way around; the long away – and all the time zones and things like that.
“We used to make a song and dance about going to South Africa in Super Rugby 15 years ago. Now we’re doing way beyond that.
“But I’m not using it as an excuse at all. That’s the reality of it.”