'Don't give Clarke the ball!' Wallabies attack coach warns players

Ian Ransom
·2-min read

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia attack coach Scott Wisemantel has warned the Wallabies not to give the ball away to All Black Caleb Clarke in Saturday's third Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney, particularly if the explosive winger is running at pace.

Clarke had a brilliant debut in the All Blacks' starting 15 two weeks ago, crashing through the Wallabies' defence with power running to set up two tries as the hosts romped to a 27-7 win at Eden Park.

Wallabies flyhalf James O'Connor was guilty of booting the ball straight to Clarke at midfield before the second of those tries, and the winger's barnstorming run set up Ardie Savea to cross the line.

Wisemantel said the Wallabies had not focused on Clarke in their preparations but cautioned the players not to give the 21-year-old a chance to start pumping his legs.

"We’re focused on ourselves," he told reporters.

"Look, you give Caleb Clarke the ball running forward at 100 miles an hour, he’s going to hurt you.

"So you just don’t give him the ball going forward at 100 miles an hour."

The Wallabies will be without inside centre Matt Toomua, one of their best defenders, for possibly the whole Rugby Championship after he broke down with a groin injury at Eden Park.

Wisemantel was unfazed by Toomua's loss and said Irae Simone, Jordan Petaia or Hunter Paisami could step into the breach at midfield.

Outside back Dane Haylett-Petty was also fit, Wisemantel said, and could be recalled as Australia look to level the four-match Bledisloe series at 1-1 and retain hope of securing the trans-Tasman trophy for the first time since 2002.

Despite the score at Eden Park, Wisemantel was happy with the Wallabies' "intent" but demanded more accuracy.

"The problem was that we didn’t control the game," he said.

"If you’re inaccurate against New Zealand, who many say are the best team in the world, you get punished."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)