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Slipper hails scrum improvements

Prop James Slipper believes the Australia scrum has made significant improvements in the Rugby Championship and has challenged his fellow front-rowers to prove it against New Zealand this weekend.

The Wallabies have been out-scrummed throughout this season's international campaign and it will be put to the Test in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin on Saturday night.

Slipper, who was sin-binned for repeated scrum infringements in the win over Argentina a fortnight ago, believes the Wallabies are now better equipped to face the All Blacks.

The 24-year-old said despite less than encouraging results in the challenging Rugby Championship series, the Wallabies have shown some good signs as they adjust to the new scrum laws.

"It's been on the improve all year. We just need to keep that improvement going," Slipper said of the Wallaby scrum.

"Against the Argentinians a couple of weeks ago we did okay. We knew they were going to attack us (there).

"We saw what they did to the All Blacks the week before us and we were pretty confident they were going to attack us there.

"We did step up and we've been working hard at it.

"Set piece in international rugby is vital for winning the games so (coach Ewen McKenzie) has emphasised set piece needs to be consistent and be the platform we work off and score points from.

"We've been working hard on it over the last two months on scrums and line outs - it's a real test this weekend against the All Blacks."

Results have so far been hard to come by since McKenzie took over from Robbie Deans but Slipper says it was always going to take time to adjust to a new mentor.

The 43-Test cap prop is adamant the side is building nicely under the new boss and expects to see those new plans come to fruition on the Spring tour of Europe.

"In the back of your head you do think it might take a bit of time bringing a different way of playing rugby and playing for the Wallabies," Slipper said.

"Bringing that into the squad is always going to take time. But we had every intention of winning those games straight away when Ewen came in, it just wasn't to be.

"We have been improving. Link's (McKenzie) been drumming it into us that once get a win it's about backing it up and getting another one and getting that consistency in your game.

"We started slow in the Rugby Championship but it's about finishing strong and getting a little run into the Spring tour."

While the Wallabies have won just once from 13 Tests in Dunedin, they feel they are ready to taste a victory on New Zealand soil.

The absence of wingers Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia through injury has seen Peter Betham added to the squad, which flew out of Sydney on Wednesday.


From Belfast Telegraph