Aussies must start handling pressure moments: Walsh

Rugby World Cup 7s - Mens
by Sam Phillips

Australia must be "mentally tougher" in pressure moments if they are to transform from good to great and lift the Sevens World Cup, according to coach Tim Walsh.

The start of Walsh's tenure as the national men's Sevens coach has been one filled with mixed results, the high of a silver medal in Singapore quickly eradicated by dreadful performances in both London and Paris - the team's worst two week stretch of the season.

The lack of consistency, according to Walsh, is due to a tendency to "go the other way" when big moments arise.

"Those moments - those real pressure moments - we seem to be going the other way," he told RUGBY.com.au.

"We're not making the right decisions, we're not handling or embracing those moments and whether that be from lack of awareness, lack of execution - that's the difference between a great team and a good team.

Tim Walsh has urged his team to lift in pressure situations. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"When everything is in your favour teams often get that win and you can see that throughout the World Series with all these different results.

"But the reality of the World Series is that you have to play well when you're not in form, when you have some injuries and when you're just not in the right mindset.

"That's where this team has to be mentally tougher, resilient and where we have to perform - even if they don't want to or when the odds are stacked against them."

Walsh wouldn't have taken the job if he didn't think the current crop of players would be able to flick the switch and embrace those pressure moments.

When Walsh is able to get this squad to do so, he believes it is a side talented enough to go with the likes of Fiji and South Africa - who have emerged as a clear cut top two.

"The experience of the squad and the combinations within the squad are really growing but it's about our ability to be smart rugby players," he said.

"When you look at a competitive analysis with all the different teams - we have to figure out Australia's point of difference.

"What's going to get us winning consistently, what's going to get us the odd victory and what's going to get us to get the best out of our best players.Walsh wants consistent success after the Sydney 7s breakthrough. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We're a very launch play, contact based team - we're not a team that really plays heads up, has that real ability to make decisions under pressure and have that variety in our game.

"When everything is right we will win but it's about adapting, being agile and ruthless in terms of being that smart player.

"That will be the difference and that's what will make us go from good to great."

Having left the wildly successful Australian women's Sevens side to take up the post as men's coach, Walsh knows what it takes to alter the thought process of a collective.

Outside of embracing high pressure situations, ensuring no opposition is underestimated is also paramount.

"Every opposition, you have to treat them with respect," Walsh said.

"As soon as you underestimate you will get beaten.

"With the women - we were expected to win or at least be there and the reason I think we kept getting there is because we didn't underestimate anybody.


"With the men you look at South Africa, Fiji, it's been a little bit different this season but there are 10 tournaments instead of five and they are always in the top three.

"It's that winning formula, that winning attitude that this team needs to have as well.

"It needs that consistency in winning - you have Kenya, Scotland, Canada, Samoa, Australia - they have all won one tournament in the last three or four years.

"Winning a tournament is great but it's the ability to be consistent and to be on the podium that will give your rivals some real fear and that's a big thing as well.

"Winning habits and the ability to walk out onto the field knowing you are going to win or at least compete."

All of that aside, Walsh just wants maximum effort in San Francisco.

If his side can look themselves in the mirror at the end of the World Cup and smile, he'll be happy as well.

"We want to walk off the field without regret, knowing that we have given it everything," he said.

"If we get beaten by a better team it's tough and I don't like it but you can at least look at yourself in the mirror.

"I know if these boys perform we are going to be up there and our goal, 100 percent is to win

"Our goal - you don't want to be too results driven and that's what we are measured on - internally that's all we want to do.

"There are no excuses, no hiding, no beating around the bush on that.

"If we don't get the win or don't get the result then it's our fault and we have to own that.

"But we have to find a way to make sure that we are not finishing in those lower places - where we do not want to be."

Australia's World Cup Sevens campaign kicks off on Saturday morning AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.