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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

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Wallabies injuries, losses, worries grow

By AAP
Len Ikitau of the Wallabies looks dejected after a loss during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Second best in all areas by their own admission, the Wallabies must now regroup from another Eden Park shellacking to take on the might of European rugby.

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Australia were belted 40-14 in Auckland on Saturday night and face a brutal examination of their failings.

“I thought our preparation was excellent … and the All Blacks shaded us everywhere,” coach Dave Rennie admitted.

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It might have been worse for the Wallabies, down 32-0 with 20 minutes remaining, putting the All Blacks within a converted try of the biggest trans-Tasman margin in 119 years of competition.

Avoiding that ignominy is hardly a face-saver, and Rennie knows it.

Asked to outline the positives from their latest trip to Eden Park – their 23rd straight loss to the All Blacks at the dreaded venue in 36 years – Rennie deferred.

“I’ll tell you in about two or three days when I look through that,” he said.

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“We tried to squeeze them and stress them but we weren’t able to.”

Rennie’s winning record in three years at the helm now stands at 38 per cent.

With Australia ranked ninth in the world, Rennie has a month to recalibrate for a European tour taking in Scotland, France, Italy, Ireland and Wales.

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He will make that trip without a wealth of talent and experience.

Marika Koroibete is unavailable, due back in Japan on club duty.

Bernard Foley, who Rennie said was knocked out in Saturday’s defeat, may join him, though the Wallabies are negotiating with Kubota Spears to keep him on.

Lalakai Foketi suffered a shoulder injury at Eden Park and won’t play again this year, joining Samu Kerevi, Quade Cooper, Izaia Perese and Rob Leota in the long-term injury ward.

Rennie ruled out changes in his fitness and conditioning team, calling them “some of the best of the world”, blaming injuries on collisions.

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It is unclear whether Scott Sio, who damaged a hamstring in last week’s 39-37 loss in Melbourne, will recover; M ichael Hooper is a “wait and see” after his personal leave, and Tom Banks is likely, though not certain, to return.

Wallabies fans might think those matches, especially against world No.1 Ireland and No.2 France could get ugly.

Rennie has another word for the daunting prospect.

“Exciting, hey” he said.

“That’s why we’re doing it … it’s a tough tour.

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“When you play a lot of footy with a lot of young men, the more we play the better heading into a World Cup year.”

Captain James Slipper says he holds “plenty of hope” for the France-hosted tournament.

“The beauty of the last three years is we’ve been able to blood a fair few Wallabies and they’ll just continue to grow,” he said.

“But the biggest aspect we need to improve on is the consistency. We manage to put in a good performance and then back it up with a poor one.

“We can’t do that at a World Cup but the bottom line is we’re confident. We’ve just got to build some momentum and keep getting better.”

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