Wallabies to inject 'some key energy' for series decider
REACTION: Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is set to bring in fresh faces for the deciding Test against France to inject “some key energy” with skipper Michael Hooper admitting “it sucks” losing to Les Bleus.
The three-Test series is finely poised after two close games that went to the wire, with Australia edging the first in Brisbane 23-21 before France bounced back at Melbourne on Tuesday to clinch a hard-fought 28-26 win.
It was the visitors’ first victory against the Wallabies on Australian soil since 1990 in Sydney, with fullback Melvyn Jaminet the hero, drilling seven penalties, including the winner three minutes from time.
The Wallabies were again poor at the breakdown with ill-discipline once more costing them points.
“I thought we a lot better in a lot of areas. But you’ve got to be disciplined, and we made some key errors,” admitted New Zealander Rennie, who has won just two from eight since taking over last season.
“There was probably two sets we lost – breakdown penalties and the kicking battle. And we put ourselves under pressure at times and maybe overplayed at our end.”
Rennie stuck with the same 23 for the opening two Tests but is expected to shuffle the deck with just a four-day turnaround before the decider back in Brisbane on Saturday.
Wing Tom Wright could be among those under threat, along with flank Rob Valetini who has not been as imposing as expected.
“There’s massive competition for places – there’s a number of guys who played in these first two games and there’s not a hell of a lot between them and someone who is outside that 23,” said Rennie.
“We’ve got guys who have been really scrapping for an opportunity and deserve a crack and we want to see a response from those new guys coming in – they will be fresh and full of beans and give us some key energy.”
Backbone of team
Workhorse Hooper, who scored one of Australia’s two tries, also pointed to the French being better over the ball, but he has high hopes of winning on Saturday.
“So close yet so far. But saying that, it’s great to be involved in a decider this week. We’re a young team and to be involved in a big game like this coming up is going to be great for our group,” he said.
“Yes, it sucks losing. The change room was definitely quiet. But the only negative will be if we take nothing from this, we don’t take a lesson learned.”
France coach Fabien Galthie was more than happy for his young squad, who have embraced the challenge with a host of regulars missing due to injuries and domestic commitments, showing composure and attacking flair.
He said he expected them to win on tour, boding well for the inexperienced team as they build for a home World Cup in 2023.
“Victory for us is something we have been looking for and expecting since the start of this tour,” he said. “I’m very happy with the behaviour and the commitment from the players.”
Galthie beefed up his pack for the game and highlighted their defence as crucial to the win.
“Defence is at the backbone of this team, the heart of the team. It definitely helps us to seize opportunities when we defend well,” he said. “We often say that to lead is to defend and we showed that.”