'We got punched in the face'
SPOTLIGHT: The Wallabies are set to be at full strength for the second Test against France in Melbourne on Tuesday as they look to wrap up the series with a second victory.
Coach Dave Rennie isn’t expected to take any chances at AAMI Park and will likely stick with the line-up that eked out a 23-21 win in Brisbane.
“With a trophy on the line, I’m sure there will be a strong team selected,” veteran Matt Toomua said on Saturday.
“In saying that, there’s plenty of things we could have improved so we understand with a short turnaround … I’m sure the coaches are juggling a few things.”
While it was a mostly bumbling performance with victory only secured with a penalty kick by Noah Lolesio after full-time, the thinking is that they will be better for the hit-out with combinations as well as nerves settling.
Toomua said that due to a neck injury he’d hardly trained alongside rookie flyhalf Lolesio, who was making his second start at 10.
“We had a week and a bit but that was the first time we’d ever played with each other,” the 31-year-old said.
“Training is different to a game – in games, you learn how people are under pressure, so there’s definitely some growth there.
“Being out there in the heat of the battle in a Test match, I think you learn a lot more.
“I was proud of Noah – he had a slower start to the match but came good when we needed it and you can’t buy that experience.
“Noah knows now he might not start well – well he can certainly finish a game when it’s needed and that’s invaluable.”
With errors contributing to a 0-15 deficit early in the Suncorp Test, Toomua hoped the team could produce a more polished performance in Melbourne.
“You probably saw a bit of nerves from our side, errors and we probably played within ourselves a little bit, particularly early in the match,” said the 54-Test veteran.
“We got punched in the face in early on, 15 points, and we had to dig out from that.
“But it is our first game of the Test season and to win a game really off pure effort is a positive and now it’s about layering on those specific details about the game.
“There’s clearly some areas to improve on but it’s nice to improve on for a win and it’s nice to have a trophy up for grabs so that’s something we’re super excited about.”
Meanwhile, the Sydney-based members of the Wallabies are keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW and are unlikely to be permitted to return home any time soon.
The final Test against France is on July 17 in Brisbane but with the opening Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand in Auckland on August 7, they will have to remain outside of greater Sydney with cases there flaring.