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Most penalised player in the Rugby Championship wants to 'pull his head in'

By AAP
James Slipper of the Wallabies looks on during The Rugby Championship match between the Australia Wallabies and South Africa Springboks at Allianz Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As the most penalised player in the Rugby Championship, captain James Slipper says he needs to pull his head in when he leads the Wallabies in their Bledisloe Cup battle with New Zealand.

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The Australians are looking to wrest back the trophy from the All Blacks, who have had a firm grip for 19 years, with game one of the two-match series at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

The clash doubles as a Rugby Championship fixture with the Kiwis in the box seat to also win that trophy, although each of the four teams have banked two wins against two losses so far.

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They sit one point clear thanks to an extra bonus point.

The Wallabies need everything to go their way to upset their trans-Tasman rivals and Slipper said they couldn’t afford to be conceding points and field position via penalties.

The veteran prop is the worst offender, giving away 11 penalties through four games – four more than any other player in the competing teams.

“It’s not ideal, is it?” Slipper said before his team’s final training run at the AFL ground.

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“We spoke about it a fair bit and we’ve had honest reviews over that and being a captain I’ve got to lead by example there and pull my head in.”

Slipper is not alone with Australia runaway leaders in the poor discipline department, conceding an average of 14.5 penalties per game.

The All Blacks chalk up 12.3 followed by Argentina, 11.8, while the Springboks are the most disciplined side with an average of nine penalties.

“We’re probably the worst team in terms of discipline at the moment,” Slipper said.

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“We seem to get penalised quite a fair bit, which is something we’ve spoken about each week, but we haven’t had a response from the players.”

While the Wallabies are coming off a loss to South Africa, the All Blacks enter the match on the back of a 53-3 shellacking of Argentina, scoring seven tries.

And with Jordie Barrett and Richie Mo’unga sharing the kicking duties, they were on target with six of seven conversions while five-eighth Mo’unga also nailed two penalty goals.

The Wallabies can at least lay claim to the best goal-kicking percentage in the competition at 87.5 per cent, while the All Blacks are at 79.2.

But Noah Lolesio, who has been their main man with the boot, is out through concussion with veteran playmaker Bernard Foley taking over the duties in Melbourne.

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