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Back to the Future

GORDON BRAY: When all seems lost, revert to kind.

The Wallabies have come to the realisation they need to rediscover the art of trusting natural instincts.

In other words, do what you do best. Have a crack and support each other all the way!

As a team that relies on a multi-phase game with quick recycle, the Wallabies moved away from the script in their last two matches. The focus on kicking for territory ultimately became horribly muddled at Newlands. To the point that players often ‘froze in the headlights.'

A pall of doom and gloom has now descended on Australian Rugby. New coach Ewen McKenzie is desperately scratching for solutions after a solitary win from his five matches in charge. His response is to return Will Genia to scrum half and go on the attack. Bravo!

Frankly I am yet to meet a supporter this week who believes the Wallabies can avoid defeat against Argentina. Which begs the question, how is it, that Wallaby stocks are in such a calamitous state?

After all, apart from Tevita Kuridrani, Quade Cooper and Scott Fardy, the personnel are the same players who were competitive in the British and Irish Lions’ campaign, with the exception of the Third Test.

Clearly, a crisis of confidence pervades for both players and fans. So how do the Wallabies pull off an unlikely victory in Rosario? (See it LIVE on TEN Sunday morning at 9.00 AEDT.)

Firstly they have to silence the crowd and that means scoring points early. Having personally experienced the atmosphere at Rosario last year, the Wallabies can expect a non-stop din of excited barracking for the home team. They are playing in a soccer stadium buoyed by a fervent Latin American soccer crowd mentality.

Led by their powerful forward pack, the Pumas will want to play the game at pace and believe they have the skill in the backs to score tries and feed on errors. The match also has huge significance because Felipe Contepomi breaks the Argentine Test cap record (87) in his last appearance.

The Wallabies got home last year on the back of a superlative goal kicking display by Mike Harris who booted six penalties and a conversion. They were also aided and abetted by a Puma side that tried too hard and fluffed their lines when composure was needed.

On that score the Wallabies passed with flying colours. Led by Nathan Sharpe the forwards toiled clinically. A composed Kurtley Beale controlled things nicely at flyhalf and newcomer Ben Tapuai slotted in seamlessly at centre with a mature performance in attack and defence.

Genia and Quade Cooper need to combine urgency with that same maturity and composure this week. But that can only happen if the forwards get the basics right and have full trust in each other. A repeat of some of the schoolboy errors at Newlands will prove terminal.

For all their shortcomings against South Africa, the Wallabies were also victims of ‘French farce’ via the erratic refereeing of Jerome Garce. Even Graham Henry labeled Michael Hooper’s yellow card for his tip tackle as "madness." It was a poor performance by the man in the middle.

Which raises another point of difference. English referee Wayne Barnes is a big plus for the Wallabies. He will not make rash decisions and his calm level-headed intelligence and interpretation will be decidedly more accurate than last weekend in Cape Town.

The Pumas’ forwards sent a chilling warning to the Wallabies last week. In one scrum, the much vaunted All Blacks’ pack was shunted a full eight metres. Argentina’s driving maul was also awesome. The return from injury of giant Toulouse based lock Patricio Albacete was telling.

Australia fields the same front row that held up manfully in Perth. Things really only started to fracture in the second half when changes were made. But different scrum backup is on standby this time in the shape of Sitaleki Timani and Benn Robinson. Another big plus.

A close knit unit is Los Pumas. They led the Kiwis after half-time last weekend and you get the strong feeling their whole Rugby Championship campaign has been targeted towards this match. It was the one that got away last year but not this time will be their mantra.

This is arguably the strongest and most experienced team Argentina has put on the field this year. That elusive first win is there for the taking and it will take a herculean effort to deny them.

Historically, Australia has always struggled to win in Argentina. Hugo Porta gave us the boot in the first ever Test in 1979 when he slotted three drop goals. In 1987, the Second Test loss to the Pumas triggered the dismissal of successful Wallaby coach Alan Jones.

The back-to-basics Wallabies can prevail in this game if their mindset is willing. The danger is that some of the Brumbies’ players, particularly front rowers Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore are running on empty after little recovery time from their torrid Super XV finals’ campaign.

Success means eliminating mistakes and playing smarter. Quade Cooper needs to straighten his running lines and commit defenders. Will Genia needs to launch Israel Folau, Joe Tomane and Kuridrani into gaps and they must be programmed to offload.

Skipper James Horwill will also emphasize discipline. Yes there are lots of boxes to tick but if the Wallabies can get the detail right, victory should follow.

In conclusion, my last point of difference is the size of the collective heart. We know the Pumas’ organ is absolutely bulging with pride. Conversely, a vibrant Wallaby heartbeat is paramount from go to whoa.