Farr-Jones questions Wallabies' mental toughness

by Sam Phillips

World Cup-winning Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones has questioned whether Australia has the mental fortitude required to beat the All Blacks, on the eve of the third Bledisloe.

The Wallabies legend, who did admit he had "cut the umbilical cord" in terms of following the national side on a day-to-day basis, said they had the talent, but queried their confidence levels.

"One of our speakers, my old teammate Anthony Herbert just summed it up pretty well," Farr-Jones said at Friday's QRU long lunch.

"There's no doubt we could win by five but they could win by 30 and I think that's about right.

"My reservation is, do they have the belief and the confidence?Nick Farr-Jones has questioned the Wallabies' mental toughness. Photo: Getty Images"I hear good things coming out of the camp and until you're in the camp you don't really know.

"Until you can eyeball someone and see that they actually believe in it, you just don't know."

Farr-Jones said the Wallabies’ decisions in the crucial moments would be telling in Brisbane.

"Confidence, you can couple that with mental toughness," Farr-Jones said.

"It’s winning in those critical stages when you’re defending a five metre scrum, you’re just in front with a couple of minutes to go.

"You know that you have to do whatever it takes to defend your line.

"From a distance, I’m not in the inner sanctum and I haven’t been in the inner sanctum for a hell of a long time but I just don’t know if the guys have got that mental toughness that you’ve seen in past teams.

 Farr-Jones was part of some fantastic Wallabies teams. Photo: Getty Images"It is that thing of whatever it takes.

"It’s the mental toughness I’m not sure the guys have at the moment."

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is one person well-placed to judge Australia’s mentality, and the skipper said a win prove they had taken major strides since a disastrous Sydney opener and August’s Dunedin heartbreaker.

Public vindication of their progress would do wonders for the code in Australia, but a Bledisloe Test victory would be just as critical internally, for a side still finding its feet.

"I think we have got a greater belief in our game and what we can do and we have also seen a lot of players step through and step up within that time as well," Hooper said.

"I'm a big believer in what this team can do and it come downs to Saturday."

To beat the All Blacks, the Wallabies must fire from the opening whistle.

That's cliche but it is so crucial against the Kiwis, as they are almost impossible to run down if they kick out to a big lead.

But should the Wallabies be in a position to pounce late in the piece - as they were in Dunedin - Hooper believes his side have grown in their in game management enough to secure the win.Michael Hooper believes his side have what it takes to beat the best team in the world. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Our growth in the game has been particularly strong," Hooper said.

"We're able to be under pressure and close out a couple games - not all of them, back in Perth we struggled to do that, but certainly in the finer detail parts of the game I think we've really been able to build as the game's gone on.

"Our bench has definitely lifted our performances coming on around that 50, 60 minute mark."

That has Hooper and the Wallabies believing, contrary to Farr-Jones' comments, that they can beat the best team in the world.

"It'd be great to beat the No.1 team in the world.

"That would do a lot of things for a lot of people and maybe change their perception but we're very positive of how things have been working in and around the team and the guys' commitment to the detail and to getting better.

"Tomorrow night's just going to be a reflection of that."

Australia takes on New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday October 21, kicking off at 7:05pm local, 8:05pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.