The Wallabies have bounced back from their record defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney last weekend, to win Bledisloe IV in Brisbane on Saturday.
For Wallabies prop James Slipper, the win gives him two reasons to celebrate the night, after he became the 13th Wallaby to play 100 test matches.
Playing at a ground that he’s had plenty of history at, the former Reds captain was subbed off just before half-time with a suspected dislocation. But he received a popular reception from the Brisbane crowd as he made his way from the field.
Post-match, Slipper jokingly revealed that it was a dislocation on the back of “my medical degree”, but despite the pain he was in, he veteran wasn’t about to start taking away from the famous result.
“It would’ve been nice to play more minutes but at the end of the day we got the win,” Slipper said following the 24-22 win.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 7, 2020
“That’s probably what we really needed tonight, especially off a disappointing weekend last week.”
Slipper’s road to this point hasn’t always been straight-forward.
Early in 2018, he was handed a two-month ban for testing positive twice for cocaine use. The suspension ended his Super Rugby career in Queensland.
But after being offered a second chance with the Brumbies, Slipper has taken it with both hands. He’s not only been able to get his rugby career back on track and win a Super Rugby AU title with the Canberra outfit, but he’s been able to play his back into the Wallabies.
But even as the 31-year-old admitted, “I’m very surprised that I actually made it here.”
“I had the best week in terms of messages and videos. James Horwill was obviously a big part of my career here at the Reds and Wallabies, and I Facetimed him yesterday.
“It was a really special week and it was led by the blokes here. Just the icing on the cake tonight was getting the result.
“100 games is good but winning is better as far as I’m concerned.”
A two-year contract extension with the Brumbies should see Slipper in and around the Wallabies for the foreseeable future, with the prop having started all four tests so far this year.
Slipper laughed off suggestions that his time playing in international rugby was nearing its end though, instead heaping praise on the potential of the Wallabies with so many new faces have donned the green and gold this year.
“I’m only 31, and as a front-rower that’s pretty young or that’s what I’ve been told. If [Greg Holmes] Holmesy is still running around, that means I’m alright.
“I’m just really excited. I’ve really enjoyed my past two years down in Canberra.
“There’s been over 10 debutants this year already. As far as direction wise for Australian rugby, I’m really excited to see those young blokes come through. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”
The Wallabies had three players make their debut at Suncorp, with Lachlan Swinton and Tom Wright starting, while Angus Bell came on as a replacement for Slipper.
Swinton was sent from the field though, becoming the first debutant in the history of Australian rugby to be given his marching orders.
Joining Slipper post-match was Wright, who described his Brumbies teammate as a great of Australian rugby. But it was the winger’s impact on the test which Slipper couldn’t help but laugh about, with Wright having scored a try on debut.
“I just can’t get over how you scored on debut. It took my 94 games.”
TRY ON DEBUT?? Tom Wright getting it done ?
? Live Blog : https://t.co/X2T3tXwTfN
— Fox Rugby (@FOXRUGBY) November 7, 2020
The former NRL five-eighth had a dream start to hsi time in the gold jersey, making an immedaite impact on the match by scoring with his first touch just two minutes in.
“That’s pretty much what dreams are made of,” Wright said.
“It sort of goes through your head at stages, how you’re going to get involved or what your first touch might look like. When it gets put on a platter like that it doesn’t get much better.
“This is the pinnacle of sport. Representing your country is extremely special for me.”
Wright was on the wrong end of a controversial incident 23-minutes into the match however, with All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi mistiming a tackle and collecting the winger’s head with his shoulder.
“I just went and saw him [Tu’ungafasi] after the game, there was nothing personal, that’s football.
“It happened a couple of times during the game, there were a few cards flying around out there. That’s football and I had to get on with it.”
Wright was a standout for the Wallabies in attack, running for the third most metres of any player with 57.
But at times, the defensive masterclass of the other former-NRL winger in Marika Koroibete, outshone the debutant. With 30 minutes to play and the scores close, Koroibete cut down Sevu Reece who was charging towards the line; another try-saver to add to his highlight reel after one last week.
“He’s probably a little bit better than well, he’s probably the benchmark.
“He leaves absolutely no stone unturned and you see that in the way he prepares each week and the way he trains, you won’t find many blokes that train harder, work harder than him.
“Getting to play alongside him tonight was extremely special.”
After finishing the Bledisloe Cup series with one draw, two losses and a win, the Wallabies will have a week off before they face Argentina on the 21st in Newcastle.
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