Australian team starting to build momentum under coach Ewan McKenzie.
The Wallabies are bidding for their best winning streak in six seasons against France in Brisbane on Saturday with new skipper Stephen Moore keen to build momentum.
Four victories at the end of last year’s European tour have Australia poised for their best run since the successful first five matches of former coach Robbie Deans’ tenure in 2008.
Among those first wins under Deans was against France at home six years ago and the Wallabies, now led by Ewen McKenzie, kick off their 2014 campaign against an under-strength Les Bleus in the first of three Tests.
Moore, appointed this week as Australia’s new captain 15 months out from the World Cup, stressed the importance Friday of constructing a launching pad in the French series.
It has been 12 years since Australia have won the Bledisloe Cup against trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and Moore is looking for his team to rise from world number three to the top ranking heading into the World Cup.
“If we can pick up a win then that’s five in a row and that’s good short-term goals for the guys to aspire to,” the 91-Test hooker told reporters.
“We did finish the season positively last year and we want to pick it up from there.
“Any time you can look back and say you have strung some wins together that builds confidence for the team and a winning habit and ultimately that’s where we want to go.”
Moore is only one of coach McKenzie’s significant decisions after less than a year in the job since replacing Deans.
The 55-Test scrum-half Will Genia was left out of the match-day squad against France, while former captain James Horwill was named on the bench behind debutant Sam Carter.
McKenzie has gone with scrum-half Nic White and fly-half Bernard Foley as his halves pairing, with just six minutes together as a Test combination.
“That’s Test footy and we have to find out because they’re going to play against the best,” Moore said.
Les Bleus are also missing key men, with inspirational captain Thierry Dusautoir (biceps) and back-row partner Louis Picamoles (hip) resting injuries.
Backline stars Remi Tales and Mathieu Bastareaud are also being rested after their late arrival from the Top 14 final played last weekend.
But Moore has predicted a tough night for his forward pack, identifying the breakdown, scrum and lineout all as areas the French will attack.
Even without Dusautoir, flankers Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy are expected to have their hands full against the French foragers.
“They’ve picked a team to compete hard at the breakdown,” Moore said.
Veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak has 66 more Test caps than Foley while Wesley Fofana is regarded as the form number 12 in rugby.
Exciting Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, who equalled Lote Tuqiri’s calendar-year mark of 10 tries at the end of 2013, is expecting the unexpected from the French backs.
“I think there will be a bit of everything really,” Folau said. “We’ve trained all week for the unpredictable.
“Especially in attack. They can throw the ball around, put little chips over the top and grubbers in behind so, defensively, we have to be on to try and stop them.”
The Wallabies must also overcome a habit of season-opening losses, falling to Samoa (2011), Scotland (2012) and the British and Irish Lions (2013) in the past three years.
“Tomorrow night is where the rubber hits the road for us,” Moore said.