Connolly: That same boring line 'one game at a time'

John Connolly Profile
by John Connolly

It’s the oldest cliché in sport but that’s exactly how the Wallabies must approach the next five weeks.

The carrot at the end is the Grand Slam, but that can’t even enter the players’ minds as they run out for the opening Test against Wales on Sunday morning.

A lot of people have already written us off and there might be good reason for that based on some of the performances this year, but I’m not one of them.

I have genuine belief that we’ve got as good a chance as ever to achieve what no Australian team has done in 32 years.

One of the major reasons behind that thinking is that this time of year is the best time to be taking on the northern hemisphere nations. The players’ focus has been on their club competitions and whereas the Wallabies have been together now for five months, the national teams in the north have been together for practically five minutes.

I’m expecting the Wallabies to get away to a strong start to their Spring Tour campaign this weekend against an injury-stricken Welsh team.

Being without their skipper Warburton and lynchpin second rower Jones is a massive blow for them. Coupled with that, this will be their first hit out since the 3-0 series defeat to New Zealand in June.

Wales threw everything at the All Blacks and played some good attacking footy in the first two Tests so it’s not going to be easy for Australia, but we come into the match in much better shape.

Losing Will Genia for this Test is a big blow and if he continues to miss matches on the tour it will hurt our chances of achieving the ultimate goal. Above all, we will miss his variation in attack.

There have been times during the season we’re I’ve questioned some of the selections for the Wallabies but right now on balance the team looks solid. I am totally convinced that in the forwards especially we are heading in the right direction.

Lopeti Timani has given us a strong ball carrying option at the back of the scrum and second rowers Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman have shown steady improvement.

For the two young locks this tour presents a real opportunity for them to stamp themselves as Australia’s long term pairing.

In the front row, Scott Sio has a huge opportunity to cement his position in the team and I’m hoping to see the big Brumbies prop come of age on this tour.

I look across our forward pack and we’ve got the power to compete with any team in the world, which is going to be really important in the tough conditions we’ll face in the coming weeks.

The northern hemisphere can be a mixed bag at this time of year and you might play some games in mild weather and sunshine and the next week come out in conditions that are atrocious.

The key to success in the northern conditions is having patience.

The Wallabies should have learnt a lot from their losses to England and the All Blacks this year and the key is to play smart footy and know when to play narrow and when to attack wide.

Our biggest threat on occasions is our own tendency to force the issue. We’ve got to show the fortitude to stay in the contest and take our opportunities when they come. The latter has been a bit of an issue for the Wallabies in recent Tests.

So, it’s one game at a time for the Wallabies, starting at Millennium Stadium on Sunday. We will find out very quickly what this young Wallabies team has learnt from a testing winter.

The Wallabies take on Wales this Sunday morning, 6 November from 1.30am AEDT on BeIn Sports Channel 513, as part of your FOXTEL subscription.