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‘We’ve got a job to do’: Junior Wallabies eye ‘back-to-back’ wins over NZ

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Junior Wallabies shocked their arch rivals New Zealand on Monday with a sensational 34-26 win in Wellington, and they aren’t done yet.

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In the first of two warmup matches ahead of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in South Africa next month, the Australians recorded their first win over the Baby Blacks since 2019.

Captain Teddy Wilson led by example with some clever play from halfback and a couple of try assists, but right winger Ronan Leahy stole the show with a stunning hat-trick.

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The Australians raced out to a 19-7 at one stage, and managed to hand on as they survived an onslaught of attacking pressure from the New Zealand Under 20s.

Fullback Mason Gordon kicked a penalty late in the contest to hand the Aussies an eight-point lead, and the score didn’t change again as the visitors held on for a famous victory.

But the Junior Wallabies are hungry for more.

Ahead of their second match at Sky Stadium on Saturday, captain Teddy Wilson said that the “great” sides “go back-to-back.”

“It was a good feeling, it’s been a while since we’ve beaten New Zealand. A few of the boys obviously last year went through the loss that we had,” Wilson told reporters on Thursday.

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“It was a great feeling beating NZ.

“The boys, they really fronted up, especially the forwards.

“We worked hard for it, it was close in the end – we had two players off which made it harder but kicking that ball out was a great feeling and all the boys really enjoyed it,” he added.

“(Coach Nathan Grey) was proud of the boys’ efforts and he said we played well but he was also speaking about how we’ve got a job to do on Saturday.

“Good teams win those games on Monday but great teams, they go back-to-back. We’ve got a job to do and we’re all excited to hopefully get another win on Saturday.”

The result also completed an incredible turnaround for the Junior Wallabies, with some of the squad playing in a forgettable 57-point loss to New Zealand last July.

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But under the tutelage of coach Nathan Grey, the squad were able to avenge that defeat with an incredible result – mixing experience with an exciting new crop of emerging talent.

Wilson said that while some players “may have had a bit of fear” after that disastrous 12-69 loss on the Sunshine Coast, the Australians were able to use it as motivation on Monday.

“Obviously a bit of experience from last year definitely helps but the new faces coming in, really keen bunch of boys, they were really excited to put on the jersey for the first time, they represented Australia well on Monday.

“I also think, cause we’re such a tight group, we’re all great mates and that obviously helps out on the field wanting to play for each other, going that extra mile for your mates.

“Coming off that bad loss last year, you could see some of the boys may have had a bit of fear.

“We pushed that aside, it was in the back of your mind, the boys used it as motivation. The boys really stepped up and I think that first five to 10 minutes really set the tone for the game.

“We stopped them a few times in that early stages of the game and the boys built off that energy.”

The Junior Wallabies take on the Baby Blacks in the curtain raiser to a titanic Super Rugby Pacific clash between the Hurricanes and Crusaders at Sky Stadium on Saturday.

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Jmann 415 days ago

Junior ABs by 15

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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