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Len Ikitau defends Dave Rennie ahead of Wallabies' last dance

By AAP
Len Ikitau of the Wallabies looks dejected after a loss during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wallabies centre Len Ikitau insists coach Dave Rennie is not to blame for the team’s lean spring tour, saying the players must take responsibility.

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Since opening the tour with a 16-15 win over Scotland, the Wallabies have lost to France (30-29), Italy (28-27) and Ireland (13-10).

Although the defeats to France and Ireland were brave given the quality of the opposition, the loss to Italy for the first time in the Wallabies’ history heaped huge pressure on Rennie.

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The Wallabies have the chance to end their spring tour on a happy note when they take on fellow strugglers Wales in Cardiff on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

Ikitau said Rennie was not at fault for the run of three straight losses.

“It’s more on the players there,” he said.

“Dave’s got an awesome system and the way he wants to play, and for us it’s going out there and executing it.

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“I just don’t think we’ve been doing that the last couple of weeks, especially against Italy.

“It would be nice to finish off our last game with a win and go forward from there.”

Wales coach Wayne Pivac is also under huge pressure after his side suffered a shock 13-12 defeat to tier-two nation Georgia last Saturday.

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It sets up an intriguing battle this weekend, with both sides desperate for victory.

The Wallabies are scrambling for players after former skipper Michael Hooper became the seventh player to succumb to injury from last week’s loss to Ireland.

Ikitau, who normally plays at outside centre, was forced to shift to the No 12 jersey against Ireland after Hunter Paisami went down early in the match.

“I’ve played 12 maybe three times my whole career, and it’s against the All Blacks, South Africa, and Ireland,” Ikitau said.

“That’s three big teams. It’s pretty tough.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I love playing 13, but 12 is a good learning experience for me.”

One big positive to come out of the loss to Ireland was the form of winger Mark Nawaqanitawase, who produced a series of powerful runs in just his second Test.

“I don’t want to be a hog or anything like that, but I go looking for the ball quite a bit,” Nawaqanitawase said.

“For me personally it’s a way I can get into the game.”

– Justin Chadwick

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