Wallabies veteran seeks redemption against England
SPOTLIGHT: Some 12 years on from a forgettable Test debut, Wallabies prop James Slipper heads to Perth and a battle with England this weekend able to seek a slice of redemption.
Just 21 at the time, Slipper debuted against England the last time the nations clashed in Perth and admits it was a struggle, the forward pack brutalised and even conceding a penalty try despite Australia winning 27-17.
But speaking ahead of Saturday’s first Ella-Mobbs Trophy Test, the vastly-experienced Slipper said he didn’t see the clash as a personal test, but rather one for the Wallabies to prove they can take it up to England in the set-piece.
“It wasn’t a great night for me that night, it’s one to park,” Slipper told reporters with a laugh.
“That debut was in 2010, so it was a long time ago and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.
“It’s very hard to win a game for your country without a functioning set-piece so we’ve been doing a lot of work on that.
“England back themselves in that area … we’re going to have to make sure we roll up the sleeves.”
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Slipper reflected on last November’s match-up, where the Wallabies coughed up 18 penalties to England’s nine and paid for it with a 15-32 defeat.
“We were really disappointed with our performance last year on the Spring tour … our set-piece wasn’t great, it really put us under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“Since the 2015 World Cup we’ve just missed the jump on that basis [against England], in the collision area, they’ve beaten us in the discipline game, they’ve got sharpshooters who can score threes and get the scoreboard ticking.”
Perhaps addressing the visitors’ dominance up front is the inclusion of former Brumbies coach Dan McKellar as the Wallabies’ full-time forwards coach, having been seconded to the national team setup last year.
Slipper, who played under McKellar at the Brumbies, hoped his club side’s forward strength, particularly at the maul could translate to the Wallabies and the international fray.
“Clearly having Dan in the picture, that’s his forte isn’t it – forwards, the rolling maul and just the detail around carries and clean,” he said.
“He’s been a great addition to the Wallabies’ makeup and we’ve been training hard, so I think all of the above will be on the menu this weekend.”