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Wallabies targeting Hong Kong to set tour tone

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The Wallabies have stressed how important it will be for them to set the tone correctly by beating the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup test at Hong Kong which kicks off their end of year tour.


Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore says that kicking off their tour with a win on November the 1st would draw the Bledisloe Cup series and also put them on the right track for their end of year Tests in Europe.


The Wallabies will however be under strength so beating the All Blacks away from home given their recent away record will be a tough task.


After the All Blacks the Wallabies will face Tests against Italy, England, France, Wales and the Barbarians so coach Robbie Deans has held 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 told AAP 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.”


While the Wallabies may be building a race car as Moore puts it, they will be without the likes of Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, James Horwill and Hugh McMeniman for various reasons.


Any two of those would have taken Moore’s racing car from a V6 to a V8.


The All Blacks meanwhile look set to be a near full strength. Prop John Afoa injured his knee and is doubtful while fullback Mils Muliaina says that he will stay home until his first child is born which could force him out of the Test.


While the All Black match represents a tough match the trips to England and France present tasks just as big as as Australia have a terrible recent record winning just once over either country since 2001.


Captain Stirling Mortlock says that the six-match tour is a “massive challenge” as the Wallabies look to remain consistent under coach Deans.


They may have come second in the Tri Nations and won six out of their nine Tests but their form changed dramatically from week to week.


They picked up their first win in South Africa since 2001 but the next week they lost 53-8 which is one of their worst ever defeats to South Africa.


“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.”


Australia have not played a match since the Tri Nations but the All Blacks held a warm up match where they won 56-10 against the New Zealand Barbarians in Auckland on Wednesday.


All Black assistant coach Wayne Smith says that even though Australia have held their training camps the All Blacks will be able to field players who have match fitness having participated in the Air New Zealand Cup.


“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.”

 

Rugbyweek.com

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