How Wallabies will regain 'lost pride'
Wallabies milestone man James Slipper has shot down suggestions Saturday night’s Test with the All Blacks is a dead rubber now that the Bledisloe Cup has been lost for another year.
Trailing 2-0 in the four-match series heading into the final Trans-Tasman showdown of the year, the Wallabies remain desperate to pull off a face-saving victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Assuming he’s named in Dave Rennie’s team on Thursday, Slipper will be playing his 100th Test in front of family and friends in Brisbane and he for one can’t bear the thought of a repeat of last Saturday’s record-breaking 43-5 loss to the All Blacks.
The Tri-Nations trophy also remains up for grabs for the Wallabies – not to mention pride.
“It’s not a dead rubber,” Slipper said on Tuesday.
“We obviously respect the jersey we play in. We’re playing for our country.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to prepare like it’s your last Test and this week’s no different.
“We’re really hungry, we’ve been training hard and we’ve just got to go out and play a game that we’ve been training to do.
“There’s no such thing as a dead rubber in Test-match rugby. Win or loss, it’s always on the record books and we’ll be going out there to win this weekend.”
Slipper maintains Rennie’s faith in youth is the way to go for the Wallabies, despite Australia suffering its heaviest defeat to New Zealand in 117 years in Sydney.
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“We just really let ourselves down on the weekend and it feels like we’ve undone a lot of good work, which hurts,” the veteran prop said.
“But direction-wise, we’re definitely in the right direction. We’ve just got to be clinical and make sure we play our best games when it’s needed. Be more consistent.”
Racking up 100 Tests will complete one of rugby’s great redemption stories for Slipper.
The 31-year-old was frozen out by Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn in 2018 after twice testing positive to cocaine and then being banned for two months.
But he has turned his career around after catching a lifeline from the Brumbies.
“I wasn’t thinking about reaching a hundred caps. That couldn’t have been any further away from the thought process at the time,” Slipper said.
“Thinking back to when I had the change at the Brumbies, I just wanted to play consistent rugby.
“That was my goal. I just wanted to contribute to whatever team I was playing for and I feel like I’ve done that.
“Yeah, if I think back two years ago, I definitely didn’t see 100 caps on the horizon.”