Halfback Nick Phipps say the Wallabies are turning to their World Cup experience to rebound for their do-or-die Test match against England on Saturday night in Melbourne.
England took control of the three-Test series with a commanding 39-28 win in the opening Test in Brisbane, leaving Australia’s hopes hanging on the result of the AAMI Park clash.
Phipps said lessons learned from fighting through the World Cup’s pool of death all the way to the final last year would give them confidence.
“We know there’s no second chances now and I think the experience we had over at the World Cup, with no second chances every week pretty much, is something we’ll be able to use to our full advantage,” Phipps said on Monday.
“We’re really embracing the opportunity to bounce back.”
England coach Eddie Jones has continued his mind games, heaping pressure on the home side, but Phipps welcomed their familiar status as underdogs.
“We’ve pretty much been underdogs for the last six years,” Phipps said.
Both Phipps and backrower Scott Fardy said the England team was more confrontational than the side they humiliated 33-13 in a World Cup pool game at Twickenham.
“They tried to get up in our face, they tried to impose themselves on the game,” Phipps said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if they can back that up and see if we can stand up to the challenge.”
Led by big flanker James Haskell and athletic, vociferous lock Maro Itoje, England’s dominance at the breakdown and set-piece was key, and the Wallabies did not help themselves with a 15-8 penalty count.
Fardy said his team didn’t adapt quickly enough to French referee Romain Poite’s policing at the breakdown and scrum, with England kicking six penalties.
“Discipline is a big part,” the blindside flanker said.
“We need to make sure with the 50:50s, if they’re not on we’re pulling out and not making bad decisions.
“That’s what got England the game; when you score four tries to two before the 79th minute and you’re still behind, it’s a disappointing thing.”
While Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he wouldn’t make wholesale changes, it appears he may make one backline change to bring in another playmaker at inside centre to take pressure off five-eighth Bernard Foley.
Brumbies inside centre Matt Toomua, who hasn’t played for six weeks following knee surgery, was at the team’s Melbourne hotel and could replace Samu Kerevi.
Phipps said the team recognised they needed to kick more against England’s fast defensive line, an element Toomua could bring to the line-up.
“We know that we’ve got to be a bit better at relieving pressure,” Phipps said.
“There were probably opportunities in the game where we backed ourselves to use our feet a bit more than the ball in the air.”
One certain personnel change is a replacement for No.8 David Pocock, who is out for up to eight weeks with a fractured eye socket.
Fardy said Cheika hadn’t given any hints but he had confidence in whoever got the nod.
“He’s (Pocock) going to be a big loss for us, any player of that calibre not playing is tough on the squad but I look at the guys who aren’t playing and I’m filled with confidence that they will do a good job,” Fardy said.