The Wallabies have been ordered to learn from the mistakes of their 2007 World Cup campaign and not take quarter-final opponents Scotland lightly.
The ghosts of a quarter-final collapse in France eight years ago still haunt skipper Stephen Moore, who along with coach Michael Cheika has referred this week to eliminating complacency against the Scots on Sunday.
Despite losing champion flanker David Pocock (calf) and fullback Israel Folau (ankle) the Wallabies will start overwhelming favourites to eliminate the world No.9 at Twickenham – owing to their own outstanding form and the indifferent build-up by their opponents, who have lost key forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray to suspension.
However, Moore like teammates Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell, remembers the horrors of the Marseille meltdown to England in 2007.
As they will be on Sunday, Australia were hot favourites but put in their worst outing at the World Cup and fell to the boot of old nemesis Jonny Wilkinson, who potted four penalty goals as England triumphed 12-10.
At the team’s Friday training session, Moore gathered everyone and laid down the law. He told them the team was in the same position eight years ago, looked too far ahead and got burnt.
Still, he tries not to think about that nightmare too often.
“I find that’s the best way to approach it,” he told AAP.
“We’ve got another opportunity now so that’s all that is important.”
It has, however, helped knock any talk of complacency on the head – whether within the team or from external sources such as the media or betting markets.
“It’s important that you keep reinforcing that throughout the week,” Moore said.
“There’s going to be a lot of peripheral talk about the game.
“We need to make sure we only focus on what we know is important which is preparing really well, training hard, being honest with each other and our preparation and giving ourselves confidence before we get to the weekend.”
Adds Giteau: “What’s a favourite tag, really? When you’re in the finals, favouritism is just for betting agencies. It’s not for us.
“There will be no complacency. None.
“In 2007 we had a great pool stage and I was talking about how strong we’re going.
“Then we lose to England and we’re out. It happens that quick.”
Moore and Giteau will both celebrate their 100th Test milestone against Scotland, joining David Campese, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, George Smith, Nathan Sharp and Ashley-Cooper as the only Wallabies to have done so.
But like his captain, Giteau has a singular focus this weekend.
“(This milestone) means nothing unless the team is able to achieve success,” Giteau told AAP.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be fortunate enough to get some individual success while I’ve been away and team success as well.
“I know which one feels better, and that’s team success.
“To be able to celebrate with your teammates on something you’ve achieved together, that’s the bigger picture. That’s what I’m chasing.”
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio. Res: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Dean Mumm, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Quade Cooper.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); David Denton, John Hardie, Blair Cowan, Richie Gray, Tim Swinson, WP Nel, Fraser Brown, Alasdair Dickinson. Res: Kevin Bryce, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Alasdair Strokosch, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Richie Vernon, Sean Lamont.