Lealiifano insists Wallabies are smart

Inside centre Christian Lealiifano insists the Wallabies are smart enough to execute Ewen McKenzie’s game plan, declaring the team doesn’t need to ”dumb down” its tactics to chase a breakthrough win.

The Wallabies slumped to an embarrassing 38-12 loss to South Africa last weekend, prompting new coach McKenzie to consider overhauling his attacking tactics by adopting a ”simple” plan.

But Lealiifano urged McKenzie to persist with the high-tempo running rugby and said the onus was on the players to prove they could play a ”smarter game” against Argentina in Perth on Saturday night.

”Some people will say dumbing down and being smarter is the same thing,” Lealiifano said.

”But I don’t think we need to dumb it down, it’s more about playing a smarter game, making better decisions and executing.

”We’re not executing under pressure. We need to be smarter about what we’re doing. It’s going to click for us.”

McKenzie is still searching for his first win as Wallabies coach after taking over from Robbie Deans in July.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said McKenzie was appointed ahead of ACT Brumbies and World Cup-winning coach Jake White because of his vision to ”play the Australian way”, a reference to playing attractive rugby.

So far the Wallabies have shown a willingness to attack, but it hasn’t delivered results. They dominated territory and possession statistics in their games against New Zealand and South Africa, but lost all three matches.

McKenzie injected Quade Cooper at five-eighth and Israel Folau at fullback to try to spark the Wallabies’ attack against the Springboks. But the Australian forwards were bashed in an error-riddled game and bench back-rower Ben McCalman said the Wallabies needed to ”earn the right” to play with flair.

”We want to recognise playing an Australian brand of rugby [and being] expansive and scoring points,” McCalman said. ”But last weekend we didn’t deserve the right to play with width … we played too lateral before we took the ball forward.

”There are things we have to change, but we don’t want to change our style – we just have to earn the right to go wide.”

The Wallabies have added NSW Waratahs trio Sitaleki Timani, Bernard Foley and Dave Dennis to bolster the squad in Perth.

Lealiifano has played all of his six Tests at inside centre for just one win.

”I’ve been trying to change my routine every week to see if something different will work,” Lealiifano said.

”Hopefully the winning record starts to balance out … I’m definitely keen to get a win.

”It’s just the way footy is at the moment, it’s about how you bounce back from it and what you learn. I want to change that record and we’re putting everything into getting the win this week.”

Lealiifano has played with three different five-eighths – James O’Connor, Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper.

Cooper returned from a 12-month Wallabies exile in the loss to South Africa last weekend.

The controversial playmaker wasn’t at his best in a game where the Wallabies forwards failed to give the backs clean ball.

But McKenzie will likely give Cooper another chance to shine as he searches for the right mix for the new generation Wallabies.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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