The Australian press have called for mass change in their team as well as for Robbie Deans to become harder on under-performing individuals.
At the post-match press conference on Saturday night, Deans chose to highlight the ‘positives’ in their 29-17 defeat. He praised the Wallaby defence, scrum as well as their ability to outscore the hosts 2-1, all factors that didn’t stop them from being beaten convincingly.
‘The general style of Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is not to throw ice buckets across dressing rooms, or scream at players after defeats,’ wrote experienced Sydney Morning Herald writer Greg Growden. ‘He instead attempts to find positives, as a way to justify a means.
‘But it all sounded a bit hollow when other vital areas of the Australian game were so dreadful, making one ponder if this team, who appear short of mental toughness and composure, will ever get it together and learn how to win away Tri Nations games with any regularity.
‘There were certainly disgraceful elements to their struggle…At times, the Wallabies’ effort was mindboggling.’
Growden was unhappy with their ill-discipline, which cost three yellow cards, and also said Matt Giteau was lucky to have escaped with just a sin binning for ‘his impression of a flying human spear’ on Fourie du Preez.
Growden then called for numerous changes for their match against the All Blacks in Sydney on 22 August.
‘The only way the players will get the message is to be tough on them, because constantly promoting their good points doesn’t seem to be working. It’s time to try something, especially when several young reserves made an impact in the second half,’ he said.
‘With Stirling Mortlock sidelined, James O’Connor is ready for another start at fullback, allowing Ashley-Cooper to move to No.13 for the New Zealand Test. Make Berrick Barnes or Stephen Moore captain.
‘Start Will Genia at halfback. Put Ben Alexander at tight-head prop. Pray Rocky Elsom is ready and give him the No.6 jersey, allowing Brown to go to No.8 at the expense of Wycliff Palu. The Nathan Sharpe-James Horwill second-row combination must be looked at – Dean Mumm deserves consideration. Peter Hynes must be close to regaining his wing spot.’
The Daily Telegraph said a defeat may have been expected, but the performance was not up to standard.
‘Why is it, now that grim expectation of what might happen in the Cape Town Test has given way to the harsh reality of a 17-29 defeat, that this result sits so heavily in the pit of the stomach? How can an outcome so anticipated rankle so badly?’
‘Maybe it’s because it wasn’t just the outcome that was anticipated but also the manner in which it would most likely be achieved. Forewarned should have meant forearmed.’