Rennie defends misfiring young Wallabies star
Fresh from a starring role in Australia’s series win over France, Lolesio kicked just two from seven attempts in a dirty night with the boot.
Lolesio missed two penalties and three conversions in the Auckland wind: his first taste of Test rugby at Eden Park.
The loss puts the Wallabies on the back foot in the three-game Bledisloe Cup, needing to win game two next Saturday to take the series to a decider a fortnight later in Perth.
Coach Dave Rennie said the 21-year-old Lolesio cut a disappointed figure in the changeroom, but downplayed the influence of his off-night on the result.
“It was tough conditions. Richie (Mo’unga) missed a few as well,” Rennie said.
Rennie wouldn’t guarantee Lolesio would retain his spot for game two, saying “we’ll tell you on Thursday”, but defended the Auckland-born Brumbies ace.
“You don’t go from an ace goalkicker to a novice overnight,” he said.
“We have a lot of faith in the kid. He was excellent against France.
“So he’s gonna get better and better. He is 21. There’s a lot of young men around him as well.
“He’s growing … he’s very confident, great work ethic.
“He’s spending a lot of time sitting around with Quade (Cooper) and talking about generic parts of his game.
“He’s been really impressive. And he played pretty well tonight.”
Cooper and Matt To’omua are possible replacements at five-eight if Rennie decides to swing a change for their must-win next game.
Captain Michael Hooper said the team would support Lolesio.
“We pick each other up … as Dave said, his boot guided us through a series win,” he said.
“In a goal-kicker’s career, there’s going to be nights like that.
“He’ll be better from it. He’ll learn from that for sure.”
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