Wallabies keen to maintain win-streak despite distractions

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Dave Rennie will be hoping the Wallabies can ignore some off-field distractions and maintain their five-game winning streak when they face Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Dave Rennie will be hoping the Wallabies can ignore some off-field distractions and maintain their five-game winning streak when they face Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

One senses Dave Rennie will be a relieved man when the Wallabies put off-field dramas behind them and return to the paddock against Scotland at Murrayfield in the early hours of Monday morning (AEDT).

Since dusting off Japan a fortnight ago to make it five wins in a row, all the headlines have been about how the Australians botched the planned release of key players Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon from their Japan clubs.

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It’s been embarrassing, amateurish and damaging to the Wallabies brand and hinders Rennie’s plan to continue rugby’s renaissance in this country by pushing Scotland, England and Wales over the next three weekends.

Like any coach, Rennie hates distractions and he will be annoyed his time and focus – and that of the team’s – has been compromised by having to deal with an issue that should have been sorted out a long time ago.

Rennie will welcome the opportunity to get back to on-field matters against an opponent which has given the Wallabies plenty of grief in recent years.

Scotland is ranked seventh in the world – four rungs below Australia – but beat Wales, France and Italy while pushing Ireland and England all the way at the last Six Nations.

The Scots have a good recent record against the Australians and Rennie, who spent three years as head coach at Glasgow Warriors, is fully aware of their capabilities.

“It’s a Scottish team that can hurt you. We have a huge amount of respect for them,” he said.

“They’ve grown. They’ve got a forward pack that are hugely competitive, a strong defensive game and kick a little bit more than they were.

“We know they will throw plenty at us.

“Playing Scotland at Murrayfield before a huge crowd is a big challenge.”

Wallabies must overcome off-field distractions against Scotland

Offsetting the loss of the Japanese trio, Rennie has drafted the “French connection” Rory Arnold, Will Skelton and Kurtley Beale into his squad.

Arnold – all 208cm and 120kg of him - will start the game while Skelton and Beale will be injected off the bench.

Completing the “everything old is new again” look, veteran James O’Connor will start at fly-half.

James O'Connor has been called into the Wallabies side to face Scotland on Monday morning. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)
James O'Connor has been called into the Wallabies side to face Scotland on Monday morning. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Rennie believes cohesion won’t be lost by the multitude of changes and will only add to the building blocks the team has put in place throughout a testing 2021.

“We looked at our schedule at the start of the year and all of them (the Tests) are a genuine challenge,” he said.

“We are learning a lot about ourselves. It’s been a great experience and a good year for us.”

That year will finish on the highest of points if the Wallabies can add Scotland, England and Wales to their list of victims.

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