Some plain speaking has the Wallabies primed to deliver a much-improved performance in Saturday’s return Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand in Wellington.
The Wallabies were leaving Australia on Wednesday determined to answer their critics and earn back the respect of their fans following a crushing a 42-8 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney in their Rugby Championship opener.
Veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper said the team needed to improve their attitude, intent and urgency.
He said the players had to back their systems after a thorough review of last week’s performance.
“There was a lot of errors in the game where we just didn’t trust our systems, both in attack and defence,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“We’ve had a few home truths and we’ve gotten through that and it’s about turning around and remaining positive and going out there to win this weekend.”
Ashley-Cooper, who plays for French club Bordeaux Begles, was one of four very experienced European-based backs and World Cup final starters recalled to the squad for the Rugby Championship, after they all missed the three-Test series against England.
The 115-cap back was philosophical about criticism surrounding coach Michael Cheika’s decision to bring back the quartet of veterans.
“Criticism is always going to be there. You’ve just got to be able to put it behind you and prove those critics wrong which we’ve always enjoyed doing,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“That’s our job this weekend is to turn around a disappointing loss that we suffered on the weekend.
“We let ourselves down and there was a lot of Wallaby fans we let down as well, so we want to go back out there this weekend and earn the respect back.”
Ashley-Cooper said the overseas-based Wallabies, who include fellow winger Drew Mitchell and halfback Will Genia, had yet to decide whether they would be available for Australia’s other Rugby Championship games after this weekend.
“With the European-based players like myself, that’s an ongoing conversation that I’m having with my club president back in France and with ‘Cheik’ here, so we’ll review that after this weekend,” he said.
“The initial discussion was with Cheik that I was coming back for the first two Tests and then it was going to be an ongoing conversation.
“I’ve always wanted to put my hand up to play for my country so, at this stage, it’s tough to put it all on paper into details. It’s a matter of having those open conversations moving forward.”