The postponement of the final Bledisloe Cup clash may prove a blessing in disguise for the Wallabies, as halfback Tate McDermott revealed how an excruciating three-week review of their latest capitulation to the All Blacks pinpointed the root causes.
A brutally honest McDermott said Australia’s 57-22 disaster at Eden Park – the biggest score they’ve ever conceded to New Zealand – did not befit a tier-one nation.
They’ve had a long time to stew on it. The All Blacks’ refusal to travel to Perth last month left the Wallabies – who were already in the west and have been on the road since June – high and dry, forcing the fixture to be moved to this Sunday.
But McDermott believes the Wallabies have used the time wisely. Coach Dave Rennie and his assistants used the three weeks to break down the performance in forensic and often uncomfortable detail.
The findings won’t exactly shock Wallabies fans – it’s been roughly the same story for 19 years – but the hope is it could inspire a strong display on home soil.
“There was definitely sprays from all coaches – but it was not just sprays, it was constructive criticism as well,” he said.
Harry Wilson and Tate McDermott know the taste of Bledisloe Cup defeat too well.Credit:Getty
“We obviously had a long time to review it, being over here for three weeks. We’ve reviewed exactly what went wrong. The most frustrating part was it was our errors, our gifts that were letting them back in the game.
“I wouldn’t say it was one individual. It was our systems, it was boys going out of the system, or not trusting the person inside and outside you. As cringe as that might sound, that’s the basis of our defence.
“It’s frustrating because whoever’s sitting in this chair pretty much says the same thing every time we play the All Blacks.
“To call ourselves a tier-one nation and [defend like] that is really quite embarrassing from our point of view. That’s one area we’ve certainly got to lift – scramble defence, but also our set-piece defence as well. Hopefully, leading into this third, game you’ll see there’ll be a massive emphasis on defence.”
Although New Zealand’s snub made Rennie “bloody angry” and further soured trans-Tasman rugby relations, Wallabies enforcer Lachie Swinton said it wasn’t driving the team.
“I don’t reckon we actually need that extra motivation,” he said.
“I think the extended two weeks we spent over here was brilliant. If there’s no edge leading into a game against New Zealand, we’re kidding ourselves. Whether there’ll be a little bit more motivation, I’m not sure.
“The boys are definitely up for it if today’s training session is anything to go off.”
Both McDermott and Swinton were involved the last time the Wallabies played the All Blacks on home soil, a 24-22 victory at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
It was Swinton’s Test debut but the occasion was soured by a late red card for a high shot on All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock – making him the first Wallabies debutant to be sent off.
But the 24-year-old said he felt like he had a better handle on his aggression and had not been asked to curb his instincts by Rennie.
“That red card was ages ago now. I’ve played a lot of footy [since] so that’s well behind my mind,” he said.
“I’ve shown that factor’s completely out of my game. That was just a one-off incident. I like playing with that sort of aggression, that’s how I’ve always played and that’s what I like doing, so I’ll continue to do that.”
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