Wallabies halfback Will Genia says Australia needs to let go of its anxieties if it wants to compete with the All Blacks for the world’s top rugby billing.
All the Rugby Championship teams have played each other and it was the Wallabies who were the closest to the All Blacks, in a 20-point loss in Wellington, a picture that paints them in a different light to the debacle depicted after the Sydney Test.
The Wallabies won’t play the All Blacks again until October 22, in Eden Park, and Genia said the biggest barrier in that pursuit was mental.
“In all honesty, I think it’s probably more a mindset shift than anything else,” he said.
“A lot of times you go into those games thinking or knowing it’s going to be hard, thinking about recent history and things that have happened, games that have been played before.
“It’s a thing where you’ve just got to forget all that sort of stuff, come in and trust the work that you’ve done and go out there and not let the anxiety take over.
“It’s about building mental toughness and resilience and that sort of stuff and if you can do that, you give yourself more of a shot against them.”
Genia said there was one clear conclusion to be drawn from the Rugby Championship so far – that New Zealand were clearly the best.
“The one thing you can say is that New Zealand are by far and away the best team in the world,” he said.
“To be honest, as much as it might sound silly, that’s something we aspire to be as well.”
The Wallabies play New Zealand three times every year, outside of World Cup years, more than any other country and Genia said that meant the All Blacks were always their yardstick.
“You get a gauge of where we’re at because we play them more than anyone else does,” he said.
“So, we’re judged probably a little more harshly than the other sides but to now have played the other two sides I guess we can gauge where we are as to the whole competition and whatnot.”
Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper said the four matches had tested them in different ways.
“We've played the world's best team and the South Africans and Argentinians, [who all have] different styles,” he said.
“That's the good thing about the comp is you play so many different styles and ours is matching up to some of the teams at the moment.
“We've just got to grind and improve in the little things because we've got some fantastic players here and some fantastic ability that we've got to get out and we showed glimpses of that [against Argentina].”
Lock Adam Coleman said the Wallabies couldn’t really tell where they were in the pecking order but said he was confident they were heading down the right path.
“I don’t really know where we sit but I do know we’re growing as a team, growing with confidence and there’s a great vibe in the change room after a win and we want to continue that,” he said.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead in terms of where we sit and that sort of stuff.”