Scrums no longer a Wallaby weakness

Australian prop Ben Alexander insists scrummaging won't be a weakness for the Wallabies at the World Cup. [more]

Scrums no longer a Wallaby weakness

Australian prop Ben Alexander insists scrummaging won’t be a weakness for the Wallabies at the World Cup.

The Lions’ next opponents were battered into submission by England at the quarter-final stages of the last global gathering in 2007 but Alexander is convinced there won’t be a repeat this time around.

The newly-crowned Tri Nations Champions have developed a far tougher edge in the setpiece under head coach Robbie Deans but their dismal showing in a pair of 2010 encounters with the English have ensured criticism is never far away for the Aussie front row brigade.

And having lost star loose head Benn Robinson to knee surgery prior to the start of the tournament, critics are suggesting that the scrum will once again be a major area of concern once the competition reaches the knockout rounds.

"We have totally got great faith in how we scrummage," said Alexander who was one of the first names on the team sheet for the Wallabies’ clash with Italy in Auckland this Sunday.

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"We want to be the best team in the world and the best team need the best pack and that's all we need to spur us on.

"We want to go out there, we want to do the job so we get the win and that's it. The criticisms hurt you when you first start hearing them but it doesn't bother us anymore. We move on.

"Obviously the Italians’ scrummaging is very good, their mauling is very good and just all the forward encounters are very good.

"If they win those areas it flows on the rest of their game so that's the areas we've been focussing on and looking to nullify.

"We just need to front up physically. They are a physical side the Italians and if you want to beat fire you have to meet it with fire, so we are very focused on the physical side of things for this Sunday."

That focus has been given an added edge thanks to a series of hard-core scrummaging sessions with former Argentina and Australia prop Patricio Noriega, now the Wallabies scrum coach.

Noriega has had his men hitting scrum after scrum after scrum at specially organised scrummaging camps that began towards the latter stages of the Super 15.

Alexander and co haven’t shied away from the more intricate elements of the dark arts either, with their efforts over the course of the Tri Nations suggesting they arrive in New Zealand in better shape than ever.

"It was just good for the blokes who weren't playing (Super rugby) finals to keep their scrum volume up, so we were ready to hit the ground running," added Alexander.

"We had a real technical emphasis on that because we had a lot of downtime to… worry about scrums.

"It is hard when you are in a team environment where you have to do lineouts, restarts and breakdowns to dedicate a large time to scrums because it detracts from other parts of your game.

"So during those scrum camps it was great, with two hour sessions a day."

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