Wallabies keen to set tour tone in HK - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies keen to set tour tone in HK

By Jim Morton 22/10/2008 08:47:46 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies have stressed the importance of setting the right tone for their challenging end-of-season tour with an upset victory in the historic Hong Kong Bledisloe Test.

Hooker Stephen Moore said a first-up win over the All Blacks on November 1 would not only ensure a drawn Bledisloe Cup series but put Australians on the right track for their Tests in Europe.

The understrength Wallabies face a difficult task in turning around their mediocre away record with clashes against Italy, England, France, Wales and the Barbarians after their Hong Kong assignment.

But coach Robbie Deans has upped the ante in the lead-up to the tour opener against the All Blacks with four high-scale training camps in Sydney, working on fitness and structure.

"The fact it's our first game on the tour is important," Moore said in Canberra.

"We've got six matches on tour and the first Test will really set the tone for it.

"We've done a lot of hard work over the last month in Sydney and this is our first chance to get out there and race the car we've been building."

The Wallabies go into the first-ever Hong Kong Test without forward pillars Rocky Elsom (Ireland), Dan Vickerman (England) and James Horwill (foot) as well as Hugh McMeniman, who was ruled out last week.

The All Blacks will be near full strength but have fullback Mils Muliaina in doubt with his wife expecting their first child next week.

Australia have a terrible recent record in France and England, winning just once over either country since 2001.

Skipper Stirling Mortlock labelled the six-match tour a "massive challenge" as the Wallabies attempt to improve their consistency under Deans.

They won six of their nine Tests this season but finished with losses to South Africa (53-8) and New Zealand (28-24) which denied them the Tri-Nations crown.

"We've lacked a bit of consistency in our results but underlying that is a lot of growth," Mortlock said.

"Six top-class matches in five weeks gives us the chance to do that."

While Australia's 34-man squad have trained hard as a group, the All Blacks have yet to select their touring party.

But New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith is backing the Kiwis' match fitness as all but two - Dan Carter and Ali Williams - have played in the NPC since the September 13 win over Australia.

"Yes, Australia will be better prepared in that they have had four camps and they have had time to hone their plays which we haven't," Smith said.

"But hopefully we will be match-hardened. That's a selection issue for us though, too. We can pick guys who have played more footy if that's the way we want to go."

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