| 12.6°C Belfast

Scrum pause not helpful - Baxter


Al Baxter (right)

Al Baxter (right)

Al Baxter (right)

Australia's most capped Test prop Al Baxter believes referee Alain Rolland deserves most of the blame for the Wallabies' scrum woes against New Zealand in Hong Kong.

Despite scraping home for a memorable 26-24 victory over the All Blacks, the scrum was again a major problem for Robbie Deans' men after struggling to adapt to the Irish whistle-blower's decision to prolong the engagement.

"I've actually said this before I think it probably destabilises the scrum having such a long pause," Baxter said.

"Think if you had to have guys on the starting blocks running or on the blocks swimming if you had to hold them that long before they started.

"And that's essentially what we do as well and we've got eight guys from both sides all having to hold that long on the blocks, so it just means that is doesn't actually make the scrum any more stable having a really, really long call.

"So ideally if the call was shortened then you'd actually have less re-packs."

Australia's problems have not gone unnoticed ahead of this weekend's clash against Wales at Millennium Stadium, with sections of the Welsh media quick to label the scrum as vulnerable.

But Baxter, who has not given up hope of returning to the Wallabies fold after being overlooked this season, believes Australia's scrum is on the up following the emergence of a new breed of front rowers.

"Something we've struggled with before in Australia has been depth in the front row and this means now we've got a lot of depth in the front row, which is great," he said.

Quizzed on his own chances of adding to his 69 Test caps, Baxter, who has fallen to at least fourth on the tighthead pecking order behind Ben Alexander, Salesi Ma'afu and James Slipper, replied: "Of course I want to be there and that I guess gives me motivation coming up to this pre-season to go as hard as I can and hopefully get back there."