Vice-captain Maclean Jones has called for the Australian U20s squad to galvanise as a collective following their first-up 15-10 loss to Scotland at the World Rugby U20s Championship in Manchester.
Heading into the tournament off the back of three-wins from four lead-in matches, including a historic first ever win over New Zealand, a loss to Scotland was not in the plans for the Australians. While bitter with the result, Jones believes the loss could help the group as a whole.
“A loss like that is something that can unify the group,” said Jones.
‘We need to stick together if we’re going to come out the back end of the tournament with some success. We need to come together now and claim the two wins we need.”
The loss to Scotland now means that the Australians are in a position where they need to win their remaining two pool games against Italy and England convincingly, in order to progress through to the semi-finals.
While a significant challenge lies before the group, with the match review process from the Scotland game beginning as soon as the players returned to their hotel, and the areas they need to work on have been identified.
“We know what we need to improve. We need to hold onto the ball and build phases to play our style of Rugby.
“We like to play and attacking style of Rugby, but that doesn’t mean we can give away the ball easy. We need to maintain possession.”
If the team want to reach the later stages of the tournament, they must tackle their next task head on, preparing to face the Italians on Saturday with just a four-day turnaround to re-group.
“We know our scrum and line-out are strengths for us, but we also need to continue to work hard on those areas. Italy also have a strong set-piece so that is something we need to target and disrupt on Saturday.”
The Australian U20s will take on the Italian U20s this Saturday, 7 June, at AJ Bell Stadium in Salford. The match will be televised in Australia via Fox Sports, kick-off at 10:30pm AEST.