Wallabies need to 'limit distractions' in South Africa: Harrison

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies need to look inwards as they prepare for a pivotal clash with South Africa this weekend.

That’s the view of former Test lock Justin Harrison, who was part of the Wallabies’ run to the 2003 World Cup final.

Australia’s players and coach Michael Cheika have been under enormous pressure after a two-from-seven start to 2018 pushed them to seventh in the world - the lowest world ranking since the system began.

A week in Port Elizabeth will have come as a welcome chance for the Wallabies to tune out some of the noise and Harrison said that was critical if they wanted to turn their results around.

“I think they've got to limit their distractions,” he said.

“It’s very easy to get pulled sideways and think about things that aren't important.

“No player likes to live in cliches but the result will arrive if players concentrate on what their role is within a group and what can they best do to prepare well for a team.

“Everyone in that whole organisation from management through to player has got to have a look at what they're doing and see how they can get just a little bit better around the edges.”

Harrison also contested the perception that things are in a disastrous state for the Wallabies after their first  home loss to Argentina in 35 years.

“Certainly, there's a lot of doom and gloom,” he said.

“It's very easy to be negative about the Wallabies but they've played against an Argentinian side who are vastly improved and clearly benefiting from playing pretty much their national side in the Super Rugby competition.

“New Zealand are playing well but we saw signs they're not as unbeatable as everyone keeps talking about and the South Africans played very poorly against Australia and then turned that around within a week and played exceptionally well against New Zealand based on some outstanding defence.

"It's a reasonably even competition at the moment and world rankings are like posters on walls, you read them or not. It's about what's going to happen on the dirt against South Africa."

Harrison said the forwards had progressed since a lineout shocker in Sydney just over a month ago, but the backline was yet to find its rhythm.

Cheika has switched things up in his attack in recent Tests but is tipped to stick with a 10-12 combination of Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua

“I'd argue the backline is a little unsettled at the moment but they'll be looking to put the best XV on the paddock,” he said.

“I think you've got to pick the best players you've got in the group and then put them together as well as you can for a Test match.”