Rebels import Geoff Parling has sounded off on Australia’s lack of self-belief when up against trans-Tasman opponents.
The 64-test English lock and former British and Irish Lions is well within his right to judge Australian rugby’s current state after arriving in Melbourne this year.
Parling said that the Australian sides simply don’t back themselves against New Zealand competition.
“You’re playing the Crusaders, it’s a chance to go and get a shot on them,” Parling told Fox Rugby.
“And maybe, because there’s been a lot of games in Aussie rugby where the teams have lost to Kiwis, maybe that plays in the back of guys’ heads.
“But it shouldn’t, because, look, they’re a very, very good team but it’s just a set of blokes at the end of the day.
“A very good set of blokes, but they’re just a set of blokes.
“I think the guys have probably got to back themselves more against those sort of teams.”
New Rebels head coach Dave Wessels caused a minor stir when he admitted that although the Crusaders are just a set of blokes, his side simply weren’t up to the task going in.
“Are we good enough to beat the Crusaders right now? No — I knew that before the game,” Wessels said.
Parling believes that Wessels’ comments were fair enough, and urged critics to take the team’s history into context.
The Rebels are still a young franchise and are coming off a season where they won just once. After a blazing start to the Super Rugby season – four consecutive wins and top position on the points table – the Rebels have cooled off, and sit just one point behind the conference-leading Waratahs with a record of five wins and six losses, already showing tremendous improvement following a tumultuous 2017.
“When you’ve got two teams that came together [the Western Force and the Rebels], to a club that won one game last year, it’s going to take a bit of time to get things going,” Parling said.
“At the start of the year we obviously did very well but we were probably not quite as good as we thought we were.
“And now that we’ve lost a few games, we’re probably not quite as bad as people think we are.”
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