Wallabies keen on another crack at All Blacks
REACTION: Wallaby prop James Slipper promised that his side will improve on an error-strewn display in Auckland when they next face arch-rivals New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup.
The Australians missed 40 tackles in the 7-27 loss to stretch their losing streak at Eden Park to 34 years and dent hopes that the previous week’s thrilling 16-16 draw in Wellington heralded a new era.
The Bledisloe venue shifts to Australia for the final two Tests of the series, which will be played as part of a truncated Rugby Championship – featuring Argentina but not world champions South Africa.
Slipper said Dave Rennie’s men were desperate to make amends for the loss when they play on home soil, with the next Test scheduled for Sydney on October 31.
“We turned over a lot of ball and we missed a lot of tackles, so that’s going to be a key work-on for us,” he told reporters before the team flew home to Australia.
“The good thing is we get to play them again in two weeks time and I can guarantee it’ll be a better outcome.”
The 97-Test forward said the players remained confident under new coach Rennie and still believed they could claim the coveted trophy for the first time since 2002.
“If there’s one thing this group wants to do it’s win the Bledisloe,” he said.
“Yes we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we don’t feel like we’re too far away.”
He admitted they are ‘humbled and hurt’, but happy to be going home.
“There’s a lot of confidence in the group and we’re well aware this Bledisloe is still alive.
“Yes, we let ourselves down yesterday [Sunday], but we’ve got two to go back at home and we’re pretty excited to get back and get stuck in because one thing this group wants to do is win the Bledisloe.
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The team will split up for a few days at home before coming together later this week and Slipper said the break from each other would be important after a month of being in a tight bubble, which has been both a blessing and a curse.
“We’ve done a lot of work off the field, building connections between the boys – it’s been one of those years when it’s been easy to do because we’ve been in each other’s pockets due to COVID-19.
“We had two weeks’ quarantine together in Christchurch – so it’s a tight group and we’re working really hard and we know we’re going to get results.
“As an older boy in the group I’m really proud of how the boys are handling it.
“But we’ve got a chance now to freshen up mentally – we’ve been in each other’s pockets for a month now and it’s important you take that mental break and come back ready to go.”
Slipper said while the result was disappointing, the fixes were obvious.
“It’s disappointing because we didn’t play the game we’d been training to play. We wanted to attack in defence and as everyone saw we missed over 40 tackles and let their outside backs clean up.
“We gave them easy ball to run with and with such powerful players like Caleb Clarke, they’re hard to pull down one on one. Ideally, we don’t want him to be running over us.
“To stop that it comes down to individuals making tackles – a lot of tackles we hit well and then just fell off. You have to make those stick otherwise the offload comes and the wave of momentum comes.”
Centre Matt To’omua remains an injury concern after straining a groin muscle and will have scans on the injury when he gets home.
The final two games of the Bledisloe Cup series are in Sydney on October 31 and Brisbane on November 7.
Sources: AFP & AAP