FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) - The rampaging All Blacks might be the benchmark at the World Cup to date, but Australia should instead look to Japan for inspiration as they try to bounce back from a tough loss to Wales, according to former World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer.
The twice champion Wallabies meet much-improved Uruguay in Oita on Saturday having fallen heart-breakingly short in their 29-25 defeat by Pool D rivals Wales.
With no team having ever lost a pool game and gone on to win the tournament, history would suggest Michael Cheika’s side are up against it.
Dwyer, however, holds hope for Australia if they can do the basics well, and sees no better role model for that than the high-flying hosts who upset Ireland 19-12 last week.
“We could really take a blueprint out of Japan’s performance against Ireland,” Dwyer, who guided the Wallabies to their first World Cup triumph in 1991, told Reuters on Thursday.
“All the fundamentals of rugby were present in their performance.
“Honestly, it was almost like, if I were to do a video for coach education, it would be the Japanese game — it was excellent.”
While the All Blacks put the tournament on notice with a 63-0 demolition of Canada on Wednesday after easing past South Africa in their opener, Dwyer said Australia could do worse than to emulate the intensity of Japan’s tackling and note their superb organisation against the Irish.
The Brave Blossoms had showcased “exemplary” speed of realignment both in attack and in defence, and were doing all the simple things extremely well, he added.
“In attack they ran straight, they didn’t get too far apart and they didn’t line up too deeply. Deep alignment only gives opportunity for the (other side’s) defence,” said Dwyer.
“It sounds simple but the game is really just the sum total of a lot of simple things.”
Simplicity was not a quality Dwyer was willing to attribute to Australia’s selections, however.
Against Uruguay, the Wallabies have gone back to the halves combination of Nic White and Christian Lealiifano that started in the opener against Fiji, with Bernard Foley and Will Genia’s surprise promotions against the Welsh having fallen flat.
“I don’t know what’s running through the selectors’ minds,” said Dwyer.
“It’s hard to know in the distance what direction they’re going in.
“It’s easy to be right in hindsight, that said, we clearly got the selection of the team wrong (against Wales) in terms of performance.
“But if that helps us to make some good decisions in future, then, fine. It’s never black and white.”
If Dwyer was certain about one thing, it was that Australia could ill afford to treat Saturday’s match as a training run when they meet Uruguay at Oita Stadium.
Uruguay suffered a 33-7 reverse against Georgia on Sunday but the South Americans showed their pedigree with an impressive 30-27 upset of Pacific power Fiji in their opener.
“There’s a lot about Uruguay that also applies to the Argentines. They’re tough and they’re proud and they don’t give in,” said Dwyer.
“So if we think this is to enable us to work out who can play and can’t play, then we’re going to come to grief.
“We need to play this game in the same way as if we were against the top team in the competition.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty