A gruelling June Series has the Wallabies lighter on their feet heading into a critical Scotland clash, centre Karmichael Hunt says.
Australia went down to Scotland in June, in a series where coach Michael Cheika was quick to criticise his team’s fitness, putting them through some brutal sessions.
As they reach the end of a mammoth year, though, Hunt said the Wallabies were beginning to see the fruits of those hard moments
“We were playing probably two or three Test matches a week in June in the lead-up to games but now it’s just calmed down a little bit,” he said.
“We’re getting a lot more reps in but a lot less amount of strain.
"The way that the coaches are preparing us is one of the biggest differences compared to June right now. They’re really making sure that come game day we’re up and about, we’re not sort of dragging our heels."
Hunt said the mentality behind the June work was all around being right as the year ticked on - an approach that has paid dividends with just one loss in the past eight games, including a win over the All Blacks.
“That was how he (Cheika) explained to us that although we wanted to win each game in June, the load of those weeks were going to be higher than normal because he wanted us to prepare for the end of the year,” he said.
“He’s a master planner, he’s obviously been in the business a while and understands how to get teams up and about when most needed.
“The results haven’t gone entirely our way this time of the year but I feel we’re a much better team than we were in June.”
Though they hit the Scotland game potentially underdone, Hunt said there was no leaning on fatigue as a reason for that defeat.
“I was definitely a lot more fatigued than normal,” he said.
“The plan was laid ahead and we weren’t going to be in tip-top shape but we were good enough to go out there and compete and there’s definitely no excuses from our part.
“We felt we should have won that game and we didn’t turn up with our best performance, it was as simple as that.
“It wasn’t down to fatigue or anything like that, it more so execution.”
Hunt said he wasn’t keen to reflect much on that game or the way Scotland played, still a raw memory for the five-Test back.
“I don't want to look back as it's a fairly tough memory,” he said.
“I don't know if they kicked the ball too many times.
“But at the end of the day we shot ourselves in the foot.”
The Wallabies take on Scotland on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 2:30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports and SBS Viceland.