Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has admitted that his side has struggled with self-belief and have been hindered by a fear of failure.
Australia have won just three of their nine Tests this year, struggling to find consistency on the field.
The side showed a glimpse of the potential they possess when everything falls into place with an astonishing comeback victory against Argentina last weekend.
Cheika’s side went into the sheds trailing 31-7 and after a vicious spray at halftime emerged 45-34 victors on the other side of the hooter.
“I’m not really up on social media or media, I don’t really read a lot of it, but players do, you know, they read all that stuff,” Cheika said on the Fox Rugby Podcast earlier this week.
“It gets in their head and it hasn’t been going great and so they don’t think they’re great and then as soon as something happens in the game, negative, which it did early on, you start to get a bit narrow in your view and you start to fear failing — as opposed to going out there to do what you need to do to perform.
“And then as a consequence, win.”
“It’s about… making sure that physically you’re ready, you’ve done the work and you’re ready and — I know this sounds crazy — but you’re ready to fail,” Cheika said.
“You’ve prepared so well that if failure happens there’s nothing you can do about it.
“So you’re not worried about it, you’re not scared of it.”
Cheika added that he understands the frustration of the Australian public, and signalled that the coaching structure would undergo some changes.
“Before you just go chopping guys or changing things around, you need to understand what we need to change internally to make a difference,” Cheika told Fox Sports.
“Because maybe what we were doing before hasn’t achieved the same outcomes.
“You need to look at how you can change — me, the coaches, other members of staff, players as well — can change and give the opportunity for changes to sink in and make a difference.”
When asked about his now-famous halftime speech, Cheika deflected credit and put the focus on the players.
“I would say a lot of thoughts were going through their head — a lack of confidence, a lack of belief.
“There was no technical information.
“When you do lose confidence or you get blocked, it stops you from doing what you know.
“Your automatic system takes over and you get very narrow.
“What they had to do is understand that this is personal, let’s do what we know how to do and do it as best we can and see what happens.
“I know there’s been a lot of arrows and bullets flying but I’m connected to them.
“I know they’ve been struggling and it’s up to me to get them up and get them going again and that’s going to be on the agenda when we get to Japan.”
Cheika will be hoping the momentum from the Wallabies’ outstanding second half against Argentina carries over for his side’s next Test.
The Wallabies face the All Blacks – a team that outscored them 78-25 across their two previous meetings – in the third Bledisloe Test later this month.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.