Michael Lynagh: Australia ready to bounce back after Lions series loss
Last Updated: 15/08/13 2:25pm
Cooper: impact player for Wallabies
Australia were devastated with the British and Irish Lions series loss which cost Robbie Deans his job as head coach.
The Wallabies will host New Zealand in the opening Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney on Saturday night and there is a feeling of hope as new coach Ewen McKenzie looks to take Australia back to winning ways.
"There have been some big changes since the Lions, a real watershed moment for Australia with the change of coach," said former Wallaby fly-half Michael Lynagh.
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"The loss of the Lions series was a bit of a disappointment for them obviously and for the general rugby public in Australia because it was so close.
That second half of the third Test was a disappointing end to it all. There was so much expectation and then to be blasted away like that was a disappointment.
"But I think since then we've had the Reds and the Brumbies involved in Super Rugby and with McKenzie coming in, it is sure to bring a sort of honeymoon period with the Australian team.
"Expectations and hopes are pretty high at the moment. Hopefully they'll be like that after the weekend.
"It's a good opportunity for Australian Rugby to turn a page, start again with a new coach who has been successful with the Reds in turning them round in the last few years.
"I guess the underlying feeling from an Australian's point of view is that, OK we've hopefully got over the disappointment of the Lions and we can now turn the page, we're looking fairly hopefully towards giving a good performance in the Rugby Championship."
McKenzie's first job is to find the right man to take the No.10 jersey and while Quade Cooper is back in the mix, Lynagh believes that he has more value coming off the bench.
"I think one of McKenzie biggest challenges is getting his selection right at 10," added Lynagh who helped Australia win the 1991 World Cup.
"He has known Cooper for a long time and has been able to get some good out of him. But I think our 10 stocks are pretty good.
"We sort of persisted with James O'Connor during the Lions and I don't think that experiment was a success. But we also have the likes of Matt Toomua and Bernard Foley who have played very well.
"Are we going to see more of how the Queensland team played a couple of years ago to win the Super Rugby title?"
"You could argue that Cooper's probably best coming off the bench when you've got a Toomua who's actually very strong defensively and a little bit more traditional."
That is not McKenzie's only challenge, though, as he needs to make the most of his talented backs and make sure he gets the balance just right.
"There are a lot of players putting their hands up to star in that backline and he needs to make sure they all complement each other - getting the best out of the likes of Christian Leali'ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jesse Mogg, Israel Folau and O'Connor is crucial.
"What I'm looking forward to seeing is how different Australia are going play under McKenzie. Are we going to see more of how the Queensland team played a couple of years ago to win the Super Rugby title?
"Players playing a bit wider than they have in the past, a bit of a different way to how they did under Deans. We're all looking forward to that being unveiled."