Wallabies not eyeing Cup revenge: Baxter - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies not eyeing Cup revenge: Baxter

By Darren Walton 08/11/2008 01:31:32 PM Comments (0)

Some teammates will disagree, but Australia's most-capped prop insists revenge is not on the menu for the Wallabies as they turn their attention to next Saturday's showdown with England at Twickenham.

After Italy, the Wallabies will switch focus to their arch enemies for what looms as the most significant Test of their five-match European tour.

Twice in the past three years, England have humiliated Australia, and more specifically the Wallabies pack, setting the scene for a mouth-watering confrontation next weekend.

Veteran tighthead Al Baxter has often been made the scapegoat for the Wallabies' front-row woes.

Mostly because he featured in both defeats, first the infamous capitulation at Twickenham on the 2005 spring tour - when the Wallabies suffered the indignity of being reduced to uncontested scrums - and then last year's Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss in Marseille.

But the 61-Test mainstay refuses to look back in anger and says the Wallabies will only be out to prove to themselves - no-one else - that they have long since moved on from two of the darkest days in Australian rugby history.

"Circumstances have changed," Baxter said. "New coach, new team, heaps of new players.

"So I think this tour is much more about us trying to go out there and test ourselves, certainly us forwards against some of the best packs in the world.

"For me, probably the three best scrummaging packs in the world would be the English, the Italians and the New Zealanders. And so on this tour, we'll have had those three teams."

Baxter claimed the Wallabies were not looking for retribution for their World Cup pummelling in Marseille.

"We're more angry at ourselves for playing so poorly, especially since we felt we played pretty well in the World Cup in the first four games. Then when you play poorly when it's must-win, that's disappointing," he said.

"So, as strange as it sounds, this tour is very much about us."

Baxter admitted that, personally, he may walk into a firestorm when he arrives in London on Sunday ahead of a week of badgering from the tabloid press which no doubt will be eager to also remind the 31-year-old of the Wallabies' inglorious scrummaging performance in 2005.

"Definitely and that's what you expect and certainly I've been around long enough that it doesn't really worry me," he said.

"They're certainly entitled to their opinions and they're certainly entitled to write what they like but, at the end of the day, we're really keen to prove to ourselves within the side.

"The opinions that matter are those of your teammates and your coaches and the guys around us."

He said the silver lining from that dreaded experience was that it proved to be a turning point for Australian rugby in that it prompted the appointment of specialist scrum coaches like 1999 World Cup-winning hooker Michael Foley.

"Before, we had the physio doing some part-time scrummaging work and that's just ridiculous when you've got a medical staff member throwing in his two bob," Baxter said.

"It was the catalyst to changing the whole emphasis of certainly coaching and also coaching of set-piece rugby in Australia.

"It became once again a focus instead of something to restart play, which it had got to. It's a whole different emphasis now."

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