Australia coach John Connolly was unreserved in his criticism of his team’s woeful performance against Italy.
The Wallabies hung on for a 25-18 against the Six Nations wooden spooners but their performance was one Connolly described as the worst since he took charge at the start of the year.
“We slipped back mentally and that’s a problem,” Connolly told reporters in Rome.
“Our selection of when and what to do was poor. Our kicking, which has been really good this year, at times really fell off the planet. Sometimes we need a kick in the pants to produce good stuff.”
Australia, who had not won away from home in 2006 until the victory in Rome, were battered by the media Down Under as well.
“The Wallabies have in recent years produced many miserable efforts, but they don’t come much more bewildering than at Stadio Flaminio on Saturday night,” wrote the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief rugby writer Greg Growden.
“Australia got away with it, but it wasn’t convincing. For most of the game the Wallabies played abominable, aimless football.”
The 2003 World Cup finalists have been largely disappointing this season and The Daily Telegraph’s Peter Jenkins said with 10 months to go to the showpiece tournament in France, he had serious reservations about their chances of winning the trophy.
“The Wallabies are walking a nine-Test tightrope to next year’s World Cup,” Jenkins wrote.
“They continue to struggle in the scrum, are failing to fire in Europe and the backline on which they will pin their hopes is far from settled after the Roman debacle.
“When John Connolly was installed this year there were 20 games to arrest a malaise that saw Australia lose eight of their last nine Tests under Eddie Jones.
“Eleven matches into that countdown, and the World Cup 10 months away, there remains mountainous terrain to cover.”