Horwill excited to play in new McKenzie era

Skipper James Horwill said he was thrilled by what new coach Ewen McKenzie can bring to the Wallabies as they seek to end their run of defeats against the All Blacks.

The McKenzie era has begun, with the Wallabies assembling in Sydney and setting their sights on regaining the Bledisloe Cup from New Zealand.

The Australians play their first match under McKenzie against the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on August 17.

"The guys coming in here are very excited about the opportunity that's ahead of us," Horwill told reporters.

"It's a fresh start under a new regime and it's our turn to sink our teeth into it and get on with business.

"We don't have a lot of time to prepare for that first Test so we've got to get down to work pretty much immediately.

"Speaking to a number of players, they can't wait to get into camp and get stuck into it."

Horwill, who was captain of the Queensland Reds team which McKenzie guided to Super Rugby glory in 2011, said he was looking forward to the coach transferring his experience to the Test arena.

"He's made it pretty clear that this is what he's wanted to do and I'm thrilled to see what he's able to do with the national side," he said.

"Everything's a little bit different in a Test team compared to a Super Rugby franchise, so I'm pretty keen to see the differences that he'll bring to the team."

McKenzie will trim his squad to 30 players on Friday. On Monday he finalised his coaching staff through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup with the addition of Queensland's attack coach Jim McKay.

McKay, who has worked with McKenzie at the Reds for the past four seasons, will keep the same role for the Wallabies as part of a four-man coaching team.

He will be one of three assistant coaches, with Nick Scrivener retaining his job as defence mentor and Andrew Blades staying in control of set-piece coaching.

Deposed head coach Robbie Deans had the responsibilities for Australia's backline throughout his five-and-a-half-season stint, which ended after the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions last month.

Former coaching coordinator Tony McGahan left his national team post last month to take charge of the Melbourne Rebels.

McKay's two-year appointment is another good sign for maverick playmaker Quade Cooper, who has played his best rugby under McKenzie and McKay at the Reds.

Out of favour under Deans, Cooper is likely to reclaim the Wallabies number 10 jersey against the All Blacks, with McKenzie and McKay expected to encourage Australia to focus on attacking rugby.

"We've got a very good mix of the technical principles and also the attitudinal bit that you need and certainly some of the innovation that is synonymous with Wallaby rugby," McKenzie said.

The Wallabies have won only two and drawn one of their last 17 encounters with the All Blacks.