Junior Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott says Australia is desperate to make amends for a disappointing Oceania finish when they take on New Zealand this Friday morning (AEST).
Australia must beat their trans-Tasman rivals to keep their hopes of a World Rugby U20s semi-final spot alive, after one win and one loss in their games so far.
With six points so far, Australia is three points behind France, who currently sit in the fourth semi-finals spot, reserved for the top runner-up across three pools.
The Aussies lost to New Zealand 43-28 in the final Oceania U20s match in April, and McDermott said there was definitely a sense of wanting to turn that around on Friday.
A 54-19 win over Japan boosted their points and their confidence, something McDermott said would be critical ahead of their massive final pool match.
“We needed that,” he said.
“We needed a big win to boost our chances I guess.
“We're really excited for this challenge coming up, we let ourselves down in the Oceania tournament when we versed New Zealand, so we're out there to make amends, can't wait.”
The Aussies weren’t entirely satisfied with their performance, allowing Japan to even scores up early in the first half with two quick tries, but McDermott said the grit they showed to pull away was pivotal.
“We'll take that, a win's a win,” he said.
“We told ourselves we were going to be clinical in that game and I think in parts of that game we didn't show that eagerness to win, but we stayed in the fight and I'm pleased with that.”
“We stayed in the fight the whole game, Japan really took it to us in aspects of that game and I think at half-time, the way we could bounce back after a disappointing first half, that's what I was pleased with.”
McDermott took the starting reins from Ryan Lonergan in Narbonne, and the two scrumhalves, who are also the two leading captaincy candidates each month,
“I was happy with it. Got a few minutes and that's all you can ask for really,” he said.
“I'm just glad the boys really came out there and showed what Australia's all about.
“It's been a good battle between me and Ryan, he's a great competitor, makes training fun.”
The Junior Wallabies take on New Zealand on Thursday night at 9pm local, Friday 5am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.