The Wallabies are primed to snap a horrid six-Test losing streak and ease mounting pressure on themselves after wrapping up their best training week of the year, assistant coach Stephen Larkham says.
Australia held their captain’s run at Ballymore on Friday morning before trimming uncapped Lopeti Timani from an extended nine-man bench for Saturday’s must-win Rugby Championship Test against South Africa.
It means Australia will go into the Suncorp Stadium clash with a 5-3 split of backs and forwards in reserve, while the Springboks have beefed up with six forwards and two backs.
Timani’s Melbourne Rebels teammate Sean McMahon has survived the cut, as have lock Rory Arnold and veteran winger Drew Mitchell, who is in line for his first match in five months after overcoming a persistent groin issue.
“It just gives us better balance in the backline,” Larkham said.
Larkham said he felt the Wallabies were in the right headspace to take on South Africa, who they haven’t faced since a try from Tevita Kuridrani after the full-time siren stole a 24-20 victory in Brisbane a year ago.
Another defeat would equal Australia’s worst losing run of the professional era.
“Today (was) maybe a little bit sloppy but it’s certainly our best training week since we’ve been together this year,” Larkham said.
“Motivation’s high, the energy’s high.
“We’ve carried a fair bit of embarrassment out of the last five games so the guys are very focused on trying to put a good performance out on the paddock.”
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Adam Coleman, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (capt), Scott Sio. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Sean McMahon, Tevita Kuridrani, Drew Mitchell.