Opportunity beckons for fringe Wallabies as campaign draws to an end
The disappointment of three tight losses is driving the decimated Wallabies to finish their marathon spring tour on a high as they prepare to take on Wales.
The Wallabies fell 13-10 to world number one Ireland last weekend and in the process lost six players to injury, while five-eighth Bernard Foley and lock Will Skelton are also unavailable for the Cardiff clash.
The three-point margin was the biggest of their five-Test tour, falling to big guns France and a shock Italy defeat, both by just a point.
Backrower/lock Jed Holloway said banking another victory, after their opening win over Scotland, was a huge motivation.
“We need wins, and we’re so close and that’s what’s driving the boys to finish this tour off the way we want to,” Holloway told reporters.
“It’s been well documented, the disappointment … but we know as a group we’re right there and we’re taking the right steps to put in a good performance.
“So really striving for that is what’s driving us and motivating us for this week.”
The Wallabies rebounded from their historic loss to Italy with a rousing performance against Ireland and are on guard for a similar response from Wales.
The Welsh have had a year to forget, suffering a humiliating loss to tier-two nation Georgia last weekend, while they allowed Italy their first Six Nations win in seven years.
Australia and Wales are in the same pool at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France, adding another spicy layer to the match.
“We know that Wales lost to Georgia last week so they’re going to want to make amends for that as well,” 30-year-old Holloway said.
The worst of the long injury list was Taniela Tupou’s suspected ruptured Achilles, with the prop already back in Australia for further assessment.
Confirmation will likely see the powerhouse front-runner miss next year’s showpiece tournament.
Holloway said it was “gut-wrenching” to watch the likeable Tupou go down.
“He’s had a fair run of injuries this year and he’s genuinely put in the hard yards to find that form which he’s known for,” Holloway said of his teammate.
The Wallabies are trying to find some upside to the shocking injury toll, with Lalakai Foketi (leg) and Tom Banks (ankle) also tour casualties.
“As a squad we need to lick our wounds and go again and because we’ve got another big Test match this weekend at Principality,” Holloway said.
“What those injuries bring is a huge amount of opportunity for guys coming in, and those guys need to take that opportunity and we need to get a result as a team.
“We’re genuinely trying to tick every single box to get that result.
“It’s hard to describe what it would mean (to win) – it would be massive to get a result on the weekend.
“We know that we’ll be put in the best position to do that from the coaching staff and it’s now on us as players to go deliver that, whatever team we roll out.”
– Melissa Woods
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