Nic White has warned critics not to get carried away with the starring form of Wallabies bench players at the Rugby World Cup.
Australia’s phenomenon of slow starts and strong finishes has applied through both games in Japan and prompted the two-time champions to go looking for reasons why before they meet Uruguay in Oita on Saturday.
The pattern has also created a stark divide when assessing player form in both the win over Fiji and loss to Wales.
Halfback White is a prime example. He was criticised for his display from the opening whistle against Fiji, particularly after positional rival Will Genia calmed proceedings off the bench.
The roles were reversed against the Welsh, with starting No.9 Genia failing to tick boxes while substitute White was all energy.
Matt Toomua was fortunate to come off the bench in both games and is now being held up as the best five-eighth starting option following the jittery early form of playmakers Christian Lealiifano and Bernard Foley.
White reckoned bench players may be shining because their arrival coincides with defenders starting to wobble in Japan’s humid conditions.
“In these conditions, everyone gets pretty tired and you’re coming on with fresh legs so it’s exciting,” he said.
“Willy had really good pay in the first week and obviously there was some tired bodies on the weekend and I came on.
“The beauty of sitting on the bench is you get to look at the game and Matty saw that flattening up and playing on top of them (Wales) with his hard running could potentially help the team and it did. It’s just different for the finishers.”
White wondered if the Wallabies had been too keen to play at pace from the opening whistle, suggesting they may ease back on the accelerator.
The old adage of earning the right to go wide applied, said White, who felt the Wallabies boast an in-form pack they can play conservative rugby behind if need be.
“Certainly I don’t think it’s a case of us not being ready or wanting it. Maybe we’re too excited and just have to build into the game a bit more and maybe show a bit more restraint,” White said.
“As you’ve seen towards the back end of the game there’s a lot of tired bodies that are out there and that’s maybe the time to move the ball around and play our style.”
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