When the Wallabies lost to New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, prop James Slipper wasn’t sure if he’d have another chance to play for a final spot again.
Australia has been able to make a semi-final just four years later and Slipper said his focus would be to capitalise on the opportunity that comes all too rarely.
“Back in 2011 the team was a very young team, very inexperienced like the core of it,” he said.
“I was 22 back then and taking I guess the thing I can take out of that game the most is enjoy the build up but don’t play the game too early,” he said.
“It’s about the performance on the night and just enjoy it.
“I think back to that moment and (I think) it was a missed opportunity for us.
“Who knows? That could have been my only chance to play in a semi-final, if not a grand final.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have another crack at it this weekend so it’s about taking that opportunity.”
Slipper is one of 11 players in the Wallabies squad who played in the 2011 semi-final and said that was a driving factor ahead of this week.
“I think just the hard work we’re putting that’s probably driving us the most and who we represent and why we play the game,” he said.
“That’s probably what’s motivating us to train hard and to perform well, to recover well and just do all the little things that no one else sees.
“Essentially that’s what you’re going to look back on when you do retire is what you’ve done and how you’ve made the game better.”
Slipper could be in line for a call up to the starting side as Scott Sio struggles to overcome an elbow injury, one of three Wallabies under injury clouds ahead of the semi-final against Argentina.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for Scotty who’s under an injury cloud with his elbow,” he said.
“I think the good thing in our team at the moment is we’ve built a lot of depth up in the squad through positions and anyone who gets given a chance normally does the job.
:”If I get given the chance to wear the one this weekend then I’ll be extremely happy and I’ll try and do my best.”
Slipper said the competition created across the squad and its reliance on bench players had helped them cover injuries.
“It’s been massively important (as has) his philosophy on his bench being the finishers,” he said.
“I think we’ve relied on our finishers a lot this year to really close out games, and come on and not just finish it but add a little bit of sting in there as well.
“The squad’s done that really, really well.
“So that sort of depth in the squad’s essentially pushing the performance (up) and the competition between position is also pushing the performance.
“I think it’s done wonders for our squad and for our team.”