Australia's battle to get out of the doldrums
INTERVIEW: Wallabies prop James Slipper has called on players to lead Australian rugby out of the doldrums with better performances and a “winning mindset”, starting with the Super Rugby AU tournament which begins on Friday week.
The game has been under pressure from financial constraints and the declining competitiveness of the now seventh-ranked Wallabies, with the coronavirus shutdown only exacerbating the problems.
The long-term outlook remains uncertain, with no broadcast deal in place for Australian rugby after 2020 and no clarity around the international schedule.
More than three months after Super Rugby was suspended in March due to COVID-19, players and fans will welcome the return of the professional game when Super Rugby AU kicks off with Queensland Reds v Waratahs on July 3, followed the next day by Slipper’s Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels.
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Slipper insists the players can help turn things around for Australian rugby by showing a more positive approach on the field.
“We haven’t really had results with the Wallabies for a few years now and our Super teams have struggled to be fair,” the Brumbies prop told reporters on Wednesday.
“At the end of the day we need to start making some changes with the way we try to go about our business, try to have a winning mindset.
“That’s what’s so exciting about this competition. There’s going to be a real spotlight on Australian rugby because we’re playing derbies every weekend.”
Slipper, who has played 91 times for Australia, said the players’ hopes of impressing incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie should ensure some “fiery” matches.
“The biggest thing that we had from Dave when he was down here was that he’s going to pick players on form,” said the 31-year-old.
“As a player that’s what you want to hear.”