New-look Wallabies more focused on kicking game: Toomua

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia are placing more emphasis on kicking in their planning under new attack coach Scott Wisemantel but will not become a “copy and paste” version of England, Wallabies flyhalf Matt Toomua said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Australia's Matt Toomua during the press conference in Sapporo, Japan, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Australian Wisemantel helped Eddie Jones’s England reach the World Cup final in Japan before joining the Wallabies under new coach Dave Rennie.

Toomua said Wisemantel’s influence had rubbed off on the group as they prepare for Sunday’s season-opening test against the All Blacks in Wellington.

“There’s definitely a little bit more of a focus there,” Toomua told reporters from Christchurch.

“You look at our attacking coach ... Scott Wisemantel has just spent a lot of time up in England.

“He’s aware of what an effective kicking game ... looks like. But once again, we’ve got to keep to our strengths.

“We can’t just copy and paste from another team because it would be ignoring a few obvious factors that influence it.”

Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika largely eschewed the kicking game during his six-year tenure and stuck doggedly to ball-in-hand rugby at the World Cup, saying he would rather lose than “kick and defend” to victory.

The Wallabies were thrashed 40-16 by England to exit at the quarter-finals, their equal-worst finish at the tournament.

Australia have not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001 but claimed a 47-26 win over them in Perth last year, when the visitors played the second half with 14 men.

Toomua said that while quick ball and a low turnover count were key to the Perth win, England had shown in the World Cup semi-finals that the All Blacks could be beaten with smart kicking and set-piece pressure.

“For us it’s about finding the right blend, the right mix that will work to our strengths but also will be efficient and work against them,” he added.

Editing by Peter Rutherford