Rambunctious Wallabies warned against getting too hubristic
As usual the Aussies are at it again. All buoyed by their own version of Super Rugby one-time Wallabies captain James Slipper has had to caution Australia’s bunch of Bledisloe Cup hopefuls against getting carried away with the “raging” success of the inaugural Super Rugby AU season.
An integral member of the Brumbies’ drought-breaking title-winning team, Slipper says Dan McKellar’s men should savour Saturday night’s 28-23 final triumph over the Queensland Reds.
Even though it was a local all Aussie affair it’s the first victory in supposed Super Rugby an Australian side has had since the ‘Tahs won the proper competition in 2014 and has served as a massive confidence booster after years of of being beaten by NZ, SA and even Argentine opposition.
“We’ve had a great year. We only lost four games this year and that’s pre-COVID (included),” Slipper said. Interestingly enough the only loss they suffered in the proper competition was to the Highlanders but saw off the Chiefs 26-14 the very next weekend.
“But it was about making sure we got something from it and, Australian teams, we’ve talked in the past about being competitive and that sort of stuff but at some point you’ve got to win something.”
Slipper features prominently in coach Dave Rennie’s 44 man squad that will assemble in Cessnock (NSW Hunter Valley) before jetting off to NZ later in the week to prepare for next month’s two tests against the All Blacks in Wellington and Auckland.
The quad includes no fewer than 16 uncapped rookies and has another 13 in it that have all played less than 10 tests so Rennie has obviously decided to plan for the future instead of staying firmly in the past. This forward thinking has given him a young quad that he can look to shape for the next four years before we hit World Cup 2023 and by then he should have an experienced well drilled squad with something most Aussie coaches have never had before – depth!
Slipper is super excited about the young talent in a squad which has an average age of just 24. However he’s wary of making bold prediction as the Wallabies venture forth in their attempt to bring the Bledisloe Cup back home for the first time in 18 years.
“As a senior player, I’m very excited for where Australian rugby can go just by seeing the young players coming through,” said the 96-Test veteran.
“There’s a plethora of young players coming through. You look at Harry Wilson, Fraser MccReight from the Reds, they’re really good players.
“One thing I will say, though: Test rugby is a step up and Australian players have got to step up. Simple.”
Simple – all they have to do is win two successive tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand – simple right?
No – it’s the tallest order in world rugby and they haven’t been able to do that for almost 20 years now!
Slipper did let slip that he felt the Wallabies had every right to feel optimistic after building confidence during their 10 week domestic competition and arguably they certainly did play some good rugby towards the end of it but confident enough to beat the All Blacks in their their own backyard after playing no-one except their own local teams may be asking a bit much?
“As players, we’ve really enjoyed it,” the prop said.
“The (Western) Force, they didn’t get a win but they were competitive and every week’s been bloody tough.
“If we could play the Kiwis, then that’d be ideal.”
“But I’ve been really happy with the level of rugby that the Australian teams have produced, not just the Reds and the Brumbies but all teams post-COVID (shutdown).”
The Wallabies are now just awaiting clearance from the NZ Government to fly to Christchurch on either Friday or Saturday.
However the second they touch down in NZ they’ll go into a strict 72 hour quarantine period before being allowed out to train and even then that must be done in isolation for another 11 days before being free to join the New Zealand public ahead of Bledisloe 1 in Wellington on October 11.
The squad to travel to New Zealand and attempt to wrestle the Bledisloe Cup back across the Tasman is as follow:
Jermaine Ainsley (3 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 25)
Allan Alaalatoa (37 Tests, Brumbies, 26)
Tom Banks (6 Tests, Brumbies, 26)
Angus Bell* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 19)
Filipo Daugunu* (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 25)
Pone Fa’amausili* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 23)
Folau Fainga’a (12 Tests, Brumbies, 25)
Jake Gordon (1 Test, NSW Waratahs, 27)
Ned Hanigan (20 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 25)
Will Harrison* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 21)
Dane Haylett-Petty (37 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 31)
Reece Hodge (39 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
Michael Hooper (99 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 28)
Tom Horton* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 23)
Trevor Hosea* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 20)
Len Ikitau* (uncapped, Brumbies, 21)
Harry Johnson-Holmes (1 Test, NSW Waratahs, 23)
Marika Koroibete (28 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 28)
Noah Lolesio* (uncapped, Brumbies, 20)
Jack Maddocks (7 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 23)
Tate McDermott* (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 21)
Fraser McReight* (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 21)
James O’Connor (52 Tests, Queensland Reds, 30)
Brandon Paenga-Amosa (4 Tests, Queensland Reds, 24)
Hunter Paisami* (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 22)
Jordan Petaia (3 Tests, Queensland Reds, 20)
Matt Philip (3 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 26)
Joe Powell (4 Tests, Brumbies, 26)
James Ramm* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 22)
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (21 Tests, Queensland Reds, 23)
Pete Samu (9 Tests, Brumbies, 28)
Rob Simmons (100 Tests, NSW Waratahs, 31)
Irae Simone* (uncapped, Brumbies, 25)
Scott Sio (63 Tests, Brumbies, 28)
James Slipper (96 Tests, Brumbies, 31)
Lachie Swinton* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 23)
Matt To’omua (52 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 30)
Taniela Tupou (19 Tests, Queensland Reds, 24)
Jordan Uelese (9 Tests, Melbourne Rebels, 23)
Rob Valetini (1 Test, Brumbies, 22)
Nic White (31 Tests, Brumbies, 30)
Harry Wilson* (uncapped, Queensland Reds, 20)
Liam Wright (2 Tests, Queensland Reds, 22)
Tom Wright* (uncapped, Brumbies, 23)
*Denotes uncapped player