Wallabies' scrum not

Wallabies' scrum not "world class” - Farr-Jones

The Wallabies have hired a scrum coach ahead of their Rugby Championship match with Argentina this weekend, and it’s not a moment too soon according to former World Cup winning Wallaby captain Nick Farr-Jones.

Coach Michael Cheika hired Mario Ledesma, a former Test match hooker who represented Argentina at four Rugby World Cups, to help fix the Wallabies’ much maligned set-piece.

Ledesma does the same job for the Waratahs and could be crucial in countering the Pumas who are one of the most feared scrummaging nations in world rugby.

But for 63-Test cap player, Farr-Jones, the real Test will be in a few months’ time in stadiums around England and Wales at the World Cup.

Put bluntly, he doesn’t believe the Wallabies’ scrum has what it takes to win.

“When you say world class, you’d say top three or four and I’d say it’s probably not,” he told Sportal.

“You look at the Northern Hemisphere teams, and they relish the opportunity to beat us up at that time.”

Scrum troubles haven’t always plagued Australian rugby, but it’s been a while since the Wallabies really dominated the set-piece, says Farr-Jones.

“It’s not just that they take time and space from you, it’s the psychological advantage that is so important.

“We witnessed that in 2007 when we played England in (the RWC quarter-final) in Marseille. We were expected to win, but at the first scrum they turned us over.

“They started to get in our faces and that can really change a game.

“I was at Twickenham last year against England. We had 60% of the ball but our scrum suffered.

“The great thing about the game is everyone has to do their job. The one, two and three through to the four and five have to do their jobs so your nine and ten can do their job.

“Can we do that? Time will tell, but Cheika knows he has to get the scrum right.”

Australia face the daunting prospect of packing down against England and Wales in enemy territory in October in two matches that will decide whether the Wallabies go through to the knockout stage of the tournament.

As a former Test halfback, Farr-Jones knows how important that part of the game will be to the Wallabies’ hopes of advancing.

“Look, I don’t understand the deep dark places, but what I do know from putting a million balls into scrums is that if you’re going backwards it’s a long day…a hard, tough day.

“But we have to get some sort of evenness – we’re never going to dominate scrums.

“I was lucky, in my first tour in ’84 we got a pushover try against Wales and that was unheard of in the history of Welsh-Australian rugby, but we had a dominant scrum.

“John Eales was blessed when he won the World Cup in ’99 with a dominant scrum.

“We have the capacity in the backs to win a World Cup if we give them the time and space, but that’s where my antennae vibrate nervously.”

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