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‘No excuses’: Wallabies embracing ‘challenge’ before All Blacks clash

By AAP
Quade Cooper of the Wallabies talks to team mates in a huddle after losing The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

With the Rugby World Cup kicking off in just over a month, assistant coach Neale Hatley has underlined the urgency in the Wallabies finding winning form in Saturday’s second Bledisloe Cup clash in Dunedin.

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The Wallabies have lost all three Tests since Eddie Jones took over as coach, with his right-hand man aware the clock is ticking with their tournament opener against Georgia in Paris on September 10.

The Australians started strongly against the All Blacks last Saturday at the MCG but fell away to post a 38-7 loss, but have a chance this week to snap a 22-year, 28-match winless run in New Zealand.

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Comparing the new Wallabies set-up to the settled Kiwis, Hatley said the Australian party needed to quickly get up to speed with Saturday’s match plus a World Cup warm-up Test against France remaining.

“In terms of the whole squad together it’s five weeks in … but the challenge is we’ve got a world cup in 40 days so there’s no excuses there, we’ve got to make sure that we get the cohesion we’re looking for more quickly,” said the scrum coach.

“Patience is a priceless commodity in professional sport … but we understand that there’s a real urgency to it.

“We’re not going to sit here and pretend that we’ve got all of the time in the world as we don’t.

“We’re massively disappointed with the result on the weekend.”

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The south island clash doubles as a final audition for World Cup spots, with Hatley revealing they were still looking to bed down around 10 positions in the squad.

“Continuity is going to be important but we understand that you really need to look hard at numbers 23 to 33 to make sure that you’re getting the right players in and you get good coverage and people who can add value,” he said.

As well as the game Hatley said players were pushing for selection through “applicable” tough training, which he deemed necessary to see improvement across the board.

With the team named Thursday, tighthead prop Taniela Tupou is unlikely to play after suffering a rib injury last match, with Pone Fa’amausili appearing poised for a bench role.

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Whichever forwards get a run Hatley said the Wallabies needed their “big men” like No.8 Rob Valetini to carry more, with the tactic putting their rivals on the back foot early in the Melbourne match.

Hatley hinted that rookie Carter Gordon would be retained for a second Test start in the No.10 jersey, seeing value in giving him another outing.

“I think he was a bit disappointed in the way he played but he’s a young man and he’s had two or three caps,” Hatley said.

“He’s getting better day by day so we’ve got to keep putting him in those positions to help him find his feet and from a forward pack point of view we’ve got to give him better ball to work with.”

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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