Wallabies Regroup for Must-Win Clash Against Wales after Fiji Defeat

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A stark reality check hit the Wallabies this week, as they embarked on a significant introspection, steered by their leadership group. Their drive to preserve Australia’s standing in the Rugby World Cup was underscored by a shocking 22-15 defeat at the hands of Fiji. Now, they are cornered into a position where a victory over Wales in Lyon come Monday morning (AEST) is imperative for their even fleeting hopes of progressing to the knockout phase of the tournament.

Returning to the helm is Vice-captain Tate McDermott, after sitting out their previous fixture against the Fijians due to concussion safeguards. McDermott noted that while their immediate attention has pivoted to overcoming Wales, a significant soul-searching session had taken place earlier this week.

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According to McDermott, the leadership team facilitated an open discussion which saw players acknowledging that their performance was far from the team’s values and standards. He applauded the sincerity displayed during the session, noting that it was quite challenging to watch original footage of the game.

The team had to address the issue head-on, laying bare every detail to avoid finding themselves in a similar predicament. The aftermath of their match against Fiji saw a considerable transformation, with the entire episode being discarded quickly owing to the crucial nature of the upcoming clash with Wales.

Stating his satisfaction with the reactions on the practice field, McDermott shared his appreciation of the head coach Eddie Jones. He lauded Jones for successfully instilling the right mindset into the Wallabies and emphasized the clear strategy ahead of their upcoming match.

Speaking frankly on their tactical approach, McDermott asserted the necessity to play smarter, particularly with long kicks which could otherwise provide unnecessary possession to a team like Wales. He predicted a tough contest considering Wales’ strategies and underlined the importance of winning the physical and mental war at the break down.

In the face of Captain Will Skelton’s probable absence due to a calf injury, McDermott couldn’t confirm his own possible elevation to the title of skipper for Monday’s match. He put forth that their robust leadership group could spawn a capable skipper, expressing confidence in the team’s collective ability.

Observing the need for a regular captain wasn’t a “massive thing” for the Wallabies, stated scrum coach Neil Hatley. He drew attention to the leadership group, which included key figures such as ‘Skelts’, ‘Slips’ (James Slipper), and Tate. Hatley described how they form plans and vision for the game alongside the coaching group, acknowledging the collective responsibility, not just the one person’s role.

In what comes as another blow for the Wallabies, Max Jorgensen was ruled out for the rest of the tournament following a leg fracture he suffered during practice. While the young winger’s replacement is allowed in the squad, they will not have the option of competing against Wales.