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'I feel for Aussie': What's 'concerning' about the Wallabies' form

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Timothy Rogers/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks hooker James Parsons has described the Wallabies’ “lack of consistency” as “concerning” following their heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Italy last weekend.

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Australia have played in three consecutive one-point thrillers against Northern Hemisphere opposition, but they’ve only managed to win one of those Test matches.

The Wallabies began their five-match spring tour with a hard fought win over Scotland at Murrayfield – although there may have been an element of luck involved towards the end.

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Flyhalf Blair Kinghorn missed a penalty attempt at goal inside the final minute which would’ve gifted the hosts a famous win.

Australia was then able to match it with one of the world’s best rugby teams in France one week later, and they even lead before a Damian Penaud try late in the contest broke Wallaby hearts.

While they result would’ve been tough for the team to take, they fought valiantly and showed plenty of promise less than a year out from the World Cup.

But a week is a long time in international rugby.

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The Wallabies were unable to avoid some unwanted history in Florence, as a spirited Azzurri side recorded their first ever win over the men in gold.

Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, former Blues captain Parsons said he felt “for Aussie a little bit” after their loss to then World No. 12 Italy.

“I feel for Aussie a little bit, but I’ve been on their bandwagon a while and it’s concerning the lack of consistency. A lot of it has to do with their high injury toll,” Parsons said.

“They’ve only got themselves to blame on this occasion.”

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Italy have shown this year that they’re a team on the rise, having beaten 2021 Six Nations champions Wales earlier this year 22-21.

But the rugby world has witnessed the best of Azzurri over the last few weeks, which has included a 32-point win over Samoa.

Australia made a dozen changes to their starting XV after the thrilling loss to France in Paris, including a forced change after lock Nick Frost was ruled out in the lead-up to the Test.

The Wallabies had never lost to Italy before last weekend’s epic encounter, with the two nations having met 18 times on the rugby field since 1983.

While the Wallabies, again, fought valiantly and did what they could to avoid the historic loss, the home side were simply too good and too clinical.

Debutant Ben Donaldson missed a conversion attempt after the full-time siren which would’ve won the match for Australia, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Six-time Super Rugby champion Bryn Hall also commented on the Wallabies’ lack of consistency, as he spoke about how the “expectation” of the Australian side was to win.

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“He’s in a tough way isn’t he? Anytime you can lose to an Italian team, and that’s taking nothing away from Italy and the performances they’ve had the last two weeks, but the expectation of the Wallabies has been able to get that result,” Hall said earlier in the podcast.

“They have had a of injuries and they were going to see a lot of guys given opportunities in this series.

“They probably should’ve won a couple of these early Test matches throughout this Northern Hemisphere tour, but it’s probably been highlighted even more with the fact that they did lose to Italy.

“The level of consistency is unfortunately the thing that’s really hampering the Australians at the moment.

“It’ll be a tough review and it’ll be probably be tough for Dave Rennie that result.”

One player who was really impressive for Italy was star fullback Ange Capuozzo, who crossed for a game-changing double.

Capuozzo was named as one of the four nominees for World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year award.

But following his standout display against the Wallabies, the fullback was compared to Rugby League great Billy Slater – with Parsons describing them as “very similar.”

“Something special is happening with that Italian side. The Samoan side is no easy team to run over the top but they put 60 on them,” Parsons added.

“To have this result, something special is building for them and their position in the rugby world. They’ve got a really successful under 20s program so they’re starting to see the fruits from that labour.

“The young fullback; you can’t coach pace. You cannot coach pace. He just injects and he’s an absolute livewire… He was the difference, his x-factor was the difference.”

The Wallabies have two more Test matches to playing during their end-of-season tour before their 2022 campaign comes to an end.

But it doesn’t get any easier for the Wallabies as they look to return to winning ways.

Their next Test is against World No. 1 Ireland in Dublin, before they visit Cardiff’s Principality Stadium to take on Wales.

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