'They've thrown the punch first': Wallabies to fight fire with fire
Firebrand flanker Lachie Swinton has been commissioned to stiffen up Australia’s forward pack as the Wallabies vow to fight fire with fire in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup return stoush at Eden Park.
Frustrated at losing the physical battle in last Saturday’s series-opening 33-25 loss in Auckland, coach Dave Rennie has drafted in Swinton and lock Matt Philip to give the Wallabies some much-needed mongrel.
“We felt that, certainly for a 15-minute spell, we lost all the collisions and you do that against the All Blacks, you’re going to concede points,” Rennie said after the Wallabies went from a point behind on the stroke of halftime to 33-8 down midway through the second stanza.
“So what we know is we need to go at them and get in their face and with Lachie coming in and Matt coming in, that gives us more of an edge.”
At club, state and test level, Swinton has been issued red cards in the past year but Rennie said he wouldn’t need to remind the enforcer to strike a balance between aggression and control in the Bledisloe Cup pressure cooker.
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“He’s physical, we know that. He’s got a reputation as being reckless but that’s far from the case,” Rennie said.
“He got a red card against the All Blacks in Brisbane. The next red card he got was squashed so that’s no longer part of his record. The red card was for fisticuffs in a club game, which is pretty common for forwards.
“We don’t have an issue. He’ll certainly bridge an edge. That’s important for us.”
Swinton’s inclusion has forced a reshuffle with Rob Valetini moving to No 8.
Conscious of All Blacks lock Brodie Rettallick’s dubious cleanout of Michael Hooper last week, when the Wallabies captain’s head whiplashed into the Eden Park turf, Valetini said Australia needed to show similar aggression.
“They’ve thrown the punch first last week and this week we want to control the game, not take a backward step,” Valetini said.
“Be in their face and I guess go out there and throw it at them.”
– Darren Walton
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