By Stephen Moore
SO FAR this year we’ve played the top teams in the world – the Lions, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina – and it’s not going to get any easier in Europe next month. We’ll have to play our best rugby to get a result.
Ewen McKenzie has a fresh set of ideas and it’s been good so far, although results have been a little disappointing. The scrum has been an issue and we need to sort it out. We’ve not handled the new laws as well as we need to.
Ewen’s also brought a new approach to the way we attack. He wants to play an attractive style so people come to watch, but we need wins as well. It’s about getting the balance between an attractive style and taking more risks, and ultimately making sure we win games.
We’ve got an extra Bledisloe Cup Test in New Zealand this month and then a five-game northern hemisphere tour in November. I really enjoy playing up there – the stadiums are wonderful and the crowds are very supportive of rugby.
We’re doing a Grand Slam tour again. I remember the one in 2009 when Brian O’Driscoll scored a try very late in the game to draw that Test and then we went down to Scotland. It was a difficult two-week period, but we have another opportunity to try to achieve that now. We’ll focus on getting a good start and building confidence as the tour goes on.
We play England first and Australia have a great rivalry with them – not just in rugby. The boys get really into that game, particularly at Twickenham, which is probably my favourite ground in the world. It has a great atmosphere and I’ve been fortunate to have success there.
Last year we lost to France at the start but bounced back against England. Any Test win away from home is special and that is a memorable win, a performance that all the guys remember fondly.
We’re playing the northern hemisphere guys in their backyard two years out from the World Cup and it’ll be a good indication of where teams are at. They will see this as a real opportunity to get a win over a southern hemisphere team so the expectation will be on us to perform.
England are improving and beat the All Blacks last year so we know that will be a formidable challenge. Wales have been a good side for a long time and their Lions players will be driving them forward. Scotland beat us in Australia the last time we played and at Murrayfield in 2009, so we know they’re a very hard side to turn over.
I’ve not seen much of Ireland of late, but I always enjoy playing there and it’ll be a new experience at the Aviva Stadium. My parents are Irish so hopefully I’ll get the chance to visit relatives there – I just struggle to find enough tickets for them all. One time I got everyone tickets in the Wallabies’ area and they turned up in Ireland jerseys and scarves! This time I might have to consider only giving them tickets if they’ll wear a Wallabies shirt.