Slipper wants Wallabies to move on up

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies prop James Slipper says he doesn't want the national team to hit the ‘reset button’ in 2016

Slipper returned to Queensland Reds training this week along with the rest of the team’s Wallabies contingent and is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a shoulder reconstruction.

While an April return is slated for the loose head prop, Slipper said he wasn’t going to rush his rehabilitation.

“I've been carrying this injury for a couple of years now so it’s probably time I had it fixed up,” he said.

“For me, [I just need to] keep ticking the boxes and making sure I come back at 100 per cent.

"Obviously I'm pushing to get back as early as I can, but I've got to be sensible, make sure I do the right thing for the team."

The 26-year-old said this Wallabies season would be about building on the momentum created by their run to the 2015 World Cup final.

“There is (a goal) as a Wallabies group - to keep moving forward from that standard that we set,” he said.

“That’s important I think.

“In years gone past, we would have hit the reset button but it’s a real goal for us to just keep moving forward and picking up where we left off last year.

Slipper said he hoped he could bring some of the World Cup lessons into this Reds season, most notably focus on restoring pride in the team.

“One of our main goals at the Reds is to play a game that all Queenslanders could be proud of it you’re rugby fans or not,” he said.

“You can walk away from the game barring the result and be proud of us.”

“We want to touch back to our fan base and prove a point but in saying that, we’ve got to be comfortable and confident in our own game and the hard work we’re putting in is going to do that for us.

“The thing we have to do is work hard and make sure we go into the season full of confidence and all the young boys go into the season with a lot of confidence.”

The incumbent Queensland captain admitted the side would be raw in 2016 but was looking forward to the return of his Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore in 2017.

“He’s [Moore] a very experienced player and the captain of the country,” he said.

“Any type of player of that calibre, it’s obviously a big move.

“We’re actually playing them [the Brumbies in] second up in the trial games so we’re just looking forward to playing in 2016.

“This year it will be an inexperienced young enthusiastic squad.

“Squeak will add a bit more oomph [with his age and experience].”

As for who might take the captaincy mantle in his absence in the early parts of the season, Slipper said there were plenty of candidates, including his 2015 deputy Rob Simmons.

“I’ve had the privilege of playing with Simmo since I was 15 and he’s well-respected in the group,” he said.

“He’s the vice-captain of the club at the moment so it depends.

“You can go either way - I’m sure he’d do a great job, He’s captained before.

“It’s something we’ll have to weigh up the start of the season.”