Wallabies looking to get back on track - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies looking to get back on track

By Darren Walton 30/07/2009 07:00:46 PM Comments (0)

Skipper Stirling Mortlock on Thursday admitted the Wallabies were still hurting after failing to break a 23-year hoodoo at Auckland's Eden Park in the series opener two weeks ago.

The frustration and bitter disappointment of the series-opening 22-16 defeat has led to some heated Australian training sessions but Mortlock is hoping the three weeks between Tests will help the Wallabies get back on track in South Africa on Saturday week.

"We've had plenty of time for guys to clear themselves both physically and mentally," he said.

"But I think that loss has still fuelled them and given a lot of guys steel and a lot of determination to go over there and give ourselves as good an opportunity as we can.

"The resolve over the last two weeks has certainly been there."

And it must remain for there will be little respite for Mortlock's men when they arrive in Cape Town, after a draining 19-hour journey from Sydney via Johannesburg.

Despite ending an eight-Test, eight-year drought in the Republic with a stirring 27-15 victory in Durban last season, the Wallabies have not tasted success at the cauldron that is Newlands Stadium since 1992.

"We've been close a number of times. In 2003, we got close. In 2007, we got very close," veteran flanker Phil Waugh said on Thursday.

"It's certainly one of the great venues in the world to play rugby at. It's a challenging venue but we've got confidence we can play well and get the win.

"But it has been a long time between drinks."

Two years ago the Wallabies were denied by two late long-range drop goals to superboot Francois Steyn, the Springboks claiming a 22-19 win in the dying minutes.

"In a way, the last trip to Newlands was one of our best performances," Waugh said.

"We didn't come away with the win but we performed very well, particularly in the forwards.

"So we need to replicate that performance in the forwards and obviously turn the result around." Mortlock, though, knows from experience that is easier said than done.

The Springboks were quick to restore order last year when they rebounded from their Durban defeat with a record-breaking 53-8 humiliation of the Wallabies the following week in Johannesburg.

Much has been made of Australia's back row needing to match the ravenous South Africans at the breakdown, but Mortlock said the onus was equally on the Wallabies backline in that department.

"The reality is nowadays that the breakdown is a team issue," he said.

"Probably eight years ago, five years ago maybe, it was more back-rowers and forwards.

"But it is a full team issue now. It's down to you as the ball carrier and all the guys around." Coach Robbie Deans is taking a 24-man touring squad, with winger Peter Hynes and back-rower Matt Hodgson added to the match-day 22 which lost in Auckland.

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