Wallabies 'don't have a leg to stand on'
SPOTLIGHT: Wallaby prop forward James Slipper is looking forward to being amongst it come Sunday when they play their first Bledisloe fixture against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Head coach Dave Rennie will be trotting out his maiden squad for this game and the 96 test veteran Slipper is keen to notch up his century before the end of the year.
The following Test will be in Auckland at Eden Park and to keep their hopes of ending an 18-year-old drought in this tournament they will need to win at least once while on New Zealand soil to keep the series alive before heading back to Australia for the rest of the Rugby Championships.
Slipper is like to share minutes on the park with veteran loosehead Scott Sio on the other side of the scrum. Slipper says he has enjoyed the injection of youth into the squad which now comprises of 16 uncapped players and the average age is only 24.
“It definitely feels like a fresh start; plenty of new faces and everyone’s putting their hand up,” the 31-year-old said.
“I haven’t thought too much about the 100 [Test milestone] to be honest, I’m just trying to make the team.
“It’s exciting to see these new players come through, an exciting time for Australian rugby and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
The front row should feature all the familiar faces from yesteryear but the deck is certainly going to be shuffled when it comes to the next generation talents like flyhalf Noah Lolesio and back rowers Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight.
Although Slipper has tried to play down the hype surrounding the success of Super Rugby AU he still admits to being excited to see how they transition to the next level.
“At the end of day it comes down to results and we don’t have a leg to stand on in terms of the last 15 years,” he said.
“But one thing I’ll tell you about these young blokes is that they’re full of confidence; they back themselves so as an older bloke I’m just trying to keep up and hopefully make that team.
“I’m just excited to see where Australian rugby goes from here and there’s nothing like testing yourself against the All Blacks for a Bledisloe.
“It’ll be fun times for whoever gets that jersey.”
At present Slipper and the rest of the scrum are receiving virtual coaching sessions from new assistant Petrus Du Plessis while he remains stuck in Ireland due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. He’s only due to arrive in Australia next month.
“It’s been different, but you’ve just got to adapt to all situations and it’s been tough for him being overseas and not working in person,” Slipper said.
“The year has been a disaster hasn’t it [because of COVID-19] but it’s been awesome over here [in camp in New Zealand] actually, to bond as a team a bit differently.
“Personally I reckon we’re on track.”