Cron confident Aussie U20s can turn things around ahead of World Cup

Australian U20s coach Simon Cron is confident his side can turn its fortunes around ahead of next month’s World Cup despite being thumped by New Zealand 43-6 on Saturday night.

Australia defeated Samoa and Fiji in the opening two matches of the warm up tournament, but couldn’t match the Kiwi’s class in their final hit out.

“It was a learning phase for the boys and there was a lot to cover and coach in that period but the result against New Zealand was obviously disappointing,” Cron said.

“Our execution of basic skills was poor and that’s an area we need to fix in the next few days.”

The squad will meet in Canberra today to finalise their preparations over the next week before flying to Georgia and Cron was happy to admit that there was still a lot of work to do.

“We’ll do a lot of work on our catch and pass and our space and line running but also cohesiveness. The boys are still getting to know one another and learning how they play so we’ll work a lot more on that,” he said.

“Every team works on the basics, at every level. The All Blacks begin almost every session with catch and pass drills so we need to work on repetition of our basic skills and also change some of the poor habits that some of the players have.”

Following the loss to New Zealand, Cron named a 28-man squad for the tournament featuring Aussie 7s star Henry Hutchison and six Super Rugby capped players.

While Cron said he wasn’t sure when he’d get the entire squad together, he’s hopeful the more experienced players will play a key role in Australia’s World Cup campaign.

“It’s a bit of a tough one because we won’t see the Aussie 7s boys until Georgia, however they should be in good shape, they’ll just need to learn the patterns and the structures.

“I’m hoping we get a few of the Super Rugby boys this week and the more time they spend with the squad the better off we’ll be.”

Despite the disappointing loss over the weekend, Cron said there were still a number of positives to take from the Gold Coast.

“I thought a couple of our forwards were quite strong defensively. I think our back five forwards had quite a high work rate and I think everyone is beginning to enjoy the way we want to play.

“But most importantly, they’re all great kids, it’s a really good group and I’m looking forward to working hard with them over the next few days.”

Australia faces Wales, Samoa and England in Pool A and Cron said he’s confident his side will be competitive in their pool matches and against the Kiwis if the two sides meet again.

“We’ve got a lot of upside,” he said.

“New Zealand played a very good style of rugby on Saturday but I think we can close the gap between them and us by spending more time together. Once we do that, we will become a bit more innovative and I think we’ll see a big improvement.”