Ewan McKenzie receives unexpected praise from former New Zealand leader after losing start.
New Zealand’s World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry urged the Wallabies to stick to expansive rugby and gave his surprise backing to their beleaguered new boss Ewen McKenzie.
Three losses in three Tests have piled the pressure on McKenzie, who took over from New Zealand’s Robbie Deans in July, but Henry said Australia were “trying to play the game the right way”.
“When they were the best team in the world at the turn of the century, they played an expansive game,” the former All Blacks coach, now a consultant with Argentina.
“It’s the way they should play because that’s their mentality and that’s their skill-level.
“I don’t think you are going to win games by playing chess-board rugby and kicking the balls in the air and chasing it.
“That’s not the way Australians play, and they haven’t got the forward pack that can give you that sort of dominance.
“I think they’re trying to play the game the right way. They’re struggling at the moment, but I think a couple of wins under Ewen will put them right.”
The 1999 world champions’ attacking style has come in for criticism following their losing start to the Rugby Championship, culminating in last week’s 38-12 defeat to South Africa in Brisbane.
McKenzie has reacted by benching Will Genia, rated one of the best scrum-halves in the world and skipper last week, for Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table game against Argentina in Perth.