Wallabies seek to build World Cup foundation

New captain Stephen Moore wants to see the Wallabies continue their winning streak. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
New captain Stephen Moore wants to see the Wallabies continue their winning streak. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


New year, new captain, and the chance for a new platform and renewed confidence.

The Wallabies kick off 2014 against an under-strength France at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday aiming to leave an era of inconsistency behind them and post their best winning streak in six seasons.

Four consecutive victories at the end of last year's Spring Tour have Australia poised for their best run since the successful first five matches of former coach Robbie Deans's tenure in 2008.

The ups and downs that followed under Deans aren't lost on newly appointed skipper Stephen Moore, who on Friday declared the importance of constructing a launching pad on Saturday night.

It's been 12 years since Australia have won the Bledisloe Cup and Moore's also been outspoken about his desire to rise from world No 3 to No 1 heading into next year's World Cup.

"If we can pick up a win then that's five in-a-row and that's good short-term goals for the guys to aspire to," the 91-Test hooker said.

"We did finish the season positively last year and we want to pick it up from there.

"Any time you can look back and say you have strung some wins together that builds confidence for the team and a winning habit and ultimately that's where we want to go."

Fifteen months out from next year's World Cup, coach Ewen McKenzie has continued to make the big, tough calls after less than a year in the job.

Having no Will Genia and James Horwill on the bench behind debutant Sam Carter has left big question marks over both his rookie halves pairing and an oft-maligned second row.

Halfback Nic White and flyhalf Bernard Foley, with just six minutes together as a Test combination, are under most pressure to step up against a French side looking to build into the three-Test series.

"That's Test footy and we have to find out because they're going to play against the best," Moore said.

Les Bleus are also missing key men, with inspirational captain Thierry Dusatoir (biceps) and back-row partner Louis Picomoles (hip) resting injuries and backline stars Remi Tales and Mathieu Bastareaud still jet-lagged from their late arrival.

But Moore has predicted a tough night for his pack, identifying the breakdown, scrum and line-out all as areas the French will attack.

Even without Dusatoir, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy, stars of the Spring Tour, will have their hands full.

"They've picked a team to compete hard at the breakdown," he said. AAP


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