Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock is concerned about Australia’s “very one-dimensional” attack in their 34-15 victory against Samoa.
Mortlock, who skippered the Wallabies to a quarter-final exit at the 2007 World Cup, watched on from the stands at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney as his former team survived a minor scare from the Pacific side in their final World Cup warm-up match.
Despite scoring six tries in the 19-point victory, Mortlock felt Australia’s attacking strategy against the world’s 16th-ranked side lacked spark and variation compared to matches from earlier this year.
“I wasn’t that impressed with the Samoa performance,” Mortlock told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“In the first half it was a pretty decent performance but we didn’t assert ourselves in the second half. What I wasn’t impressed with was in attack we looked very one-dimensional.
“Perhaps that was an extension of the fact the guys have been on tour away and have had a pretty heavy workload during camp.
“When you do that you’re not as polished and likely to chance your arm but certainly most of the test matches this year we’ve seen the Wallabies attack really throw caution to the wind with ball in hand and use a lot of width and lots of passes.
“Whereas against Samoa I didn’t sense that was the case. That was my disappointment, I just found it hard to follow to be frank.
Continue reading below…
“There was hardly any time to give them a good lead-up into the World Cup and that was their last crack at it and it seemed to be a little different to the few matches before.
“They’ve changed their attack dramatically this year, so in my view every game was critical to go in the right direction to improve it or reinforce that new style. Yet to me it certainly didn’t look like that’s what they were doing against Samoa.
“It felt like it was a bit of a waste.”
Mortlock’s criticism came with a glimmer of hope, as the 42-year-old believed he had seen enough from the Wallabies’ 47-26 Bledisloe Cup thumping of the All Blacks in Perth to suggest that the Australians could go far in the World Cup should they string together some commanding performances.
“In 2015 I was pretty optimistic leading into it but this year I wasn’t until I went across to Perth,” he said.
“I can definitely see this Wallaby outfit surprising a lot of people with a strong championship-style performance in the World Cup.
“That’s why I’m a little bit frustrated by the Samoan performance. I expected to see really expansive attack and a different attack to what we’ve seen to the last few years. I didn’t think it was as high-risk high reward as we’ve seen in Tests before that.
“I’m hoping we get our set-piece right, which we’ve done in patches, and if we do that I think we can go deep into this tournament again with that attack.”
The Wallabies kick-off their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Sapporo on September 21.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.