'Smash and grab': Wallabies' tactic for World Cup
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Once a week, Eddie Jones and his Wallabies inner circle dial in for a Zoom meeting with one key focus – defying the odds and pinching the World Cup.
Warming to the Wallabies coach’s ‘smash and grab’ theme, belief is growing Australia can win their first Webb Ellis Cup since 1999 and return to the top of the rugby hierarchy.
Jones has not yet named a captain for the showpiece event – which kicks off in Paris, France, on September 8 – but is leaning on veterans such as Michael Hooper, Allan Alaalatoa, Nic White and James Slipper to help build a team that could strike through a wide-open World Cup field.
“The leaders are getting together once a week with Eddie to talk about our learnings throughout Super Rugby but also about gameplay,” Alaalatoa said on Thursday.
“We’re continuing to get together once a week collaborating on ideas, what we’re feeling, what we’re seeing and what we’re learning.
“There’s no time to waste and as leaders, we’re trying to make the most of every opportunity when we’re not together as a team.
“We’ve got a lot of fathers in the crew, so they’re later in the night when the kids are asleep.
“It’s not something we’ve done in the past, so it’s good to keep in touch and understand what Eddie’s thinking because he’s a wise man, he gets the game.”
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Mindset will play a key role for the Wallabies, with players and coaches regularly searching for the extra mental steel to ready them for battle.
White said Jones had joked the team’s psychologists were working so hard they could benefit from a session themselves.
“No stone is left unturned. It’s going to take all leaders and even guys outside of that group,” he said.
“No one person is going to be able to go over there and have made that much of a difference, (we’re) going to have a certain mentality around leading and everyone knowing their strengths and weaknesses.
“There’s a pretty cool feeling around Australian rugby at the moment.”
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Looking back to April’s Gold Coast training get-together, a first peek into Jones’ personnel plans for the tournament which kicks off in 100 days, White said: “From that camp, everyone came out going ‘gee whiz, make sure you’re part of it’.
“There’s a real what we’re calling a ‘smash and grab’ opportunity there.”
Alaalatoa said Jones’ faith that Australia can take home the trophy was spreading to the players.
“When the boys left the camp, there was a lot of belief we can win the World Cup,” he said.
“How [Eddie] speaks and how he presents himself in front of the boys in the meetings, he’s constantly ingraining that in the players’ minds.”