Australia lock Dan Vickerman has admitted that the Wallabies will have to improve their work at the lineout if they are to have any chance of winning their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Australia’s lineout became a liability during last weekend’s epic 11-9 win against South Africa that knocked the defending champions out of the tournament.
The Wallabies lost five lineouts on their own throw, making for an alarming 14 lost lineouts in five games at the World Cup.
Vickerman, who calls Australia’s lineout moves, said the set-piece must improve or New Zealand would put them to the sword at Eden Park on Sunday.
“It wasn’t the best (against South Africa). We’ve got the luxury of this week to have the opportunity to fix that and focus on areas that we didn’t do as well as we possibly,” Vickerman said Tuesday.
“We will do that and work hard on it this week to get an improvement in that area,” he added.
Vickerman, 32, said as the team’s caller he had to take some responsibility for the lineout shambles.
“First of all, South Africa defended it well, so you have to give them credit where credit’s due and on the flip side of that we should make sure our timing is good,” he said.
“As a caller you’ve got to improve areas that you let the group down and that’s a big focus for us.”
The Wallabies face another stern examination of their lineout prowess against the All Blacks, bidding for their first Webb Ellis Cup since winning the inaugural tournament, also on home soil, in 1987.
“The All Blacks have been efficient at lineout and they did well in this year’s Tri-Nations against South Africa and us and in the last couple of years it’s an area of the game that they pride themselves on,” Vickerman said.
“They’re pretty strong and they have some astute operators in Ali Williams and Sam Whitelock.
“If you’re not on your game they’ll put you to the sword so we have to focus hard on that area.”
South African-born Vickerman, who moved to Australia in 2000, praised Springbok lineout ace Victor Matfield, who is expected to retire from international rugby after playing his 110th Test match last weekend.
“Victor Matfield has been a performer for a long time and when you play against someone who’s the best in the business it brings out the best in you,” Vickerman said.
“So it’s sad to see a bloke like that call it a day on the game, because he just adds so much and he’s got the respect of the guys.
“It’s just massive what he has achieved but you always enjoy playing against the best and he’s right up there.”
Vickerman, who is playing in his third and likely last World Cup, said Australia’s against-the-odds victory over South Africa was special.
“The enthusiasm and the spirit came out, the defence won that game and that just speaks volumes about the group.
“Those wins are special and to do that and enjoy it is great.”