Wallabies prepared for shifting pitch

Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau admits AAMI Park’s unstable surface is a worry, but one that both sides will simply have to come to terms with in Saturday’s crucial second Test.

Australia needs to beat England to square up the series and keep alive their chances of obtaining the Cook Cup, which the tourists have held for the last three years.

But there are serious concerns over player safety because of the turf at the Melbourne venue, which has consistently given way under scrums at Super Rugby level for many weeks.

AAMI Park officials insist the surface will hold up on Saturday, but there is only so much work groundskeepers can do it salvage it and Polota-Nau says the Wallabies are preparing for the worst.

“The ground’s the ground. We’ve got to make best use of it,” he said.

“I think we just have to make sure we adapt to the situation quicker than England do.

“We’re not too worried about the ground, we’re just worried about keeping ball in hand.

“Obviously if we can’t get traction in the scrums that will be another issue but I’m sure come Saturday we’ll be more than prepared for it.”

The scrum battle is already in focus after England prop Dan Cole was criticised by former Wallaby Phil Kearns for deliberately and illegally angling in during the first Test, leading to the second-half yellow carding of his opposite number Scott Sio.

Top South African referee Craig Joubert will control Saturday’s match and is already under pressure to ensure no team gets an unfair advantage come scrum time.

Polota-Nau said Australian scrum coach Mario Ledesma had offered positive feedback to the forwards after the series opener.

“Mario’s assessment was that we need to be great. We were (just) good, especially when they were a bit rattled in terms of set-up and getting a penalty straight away,” he said.

“At the end of the day it’s moreso having a perfect platform for us.

“We’re always aiming for perfect. We can only get as close to as perfect.

“It’s just (about) making sure we don’t even include the referee in the situation.”

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