Haylett-Petty's 24-hour journey from sick bed to star performance in Salta

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

On Friday, Dane Haylett-Petty was lying in bed half an hour away from Wallabies training with a serious bout of gastro.

Just 24 hours later, the fullback was man of the match for Australia in one of the most remarkable Test matches in recent memory.

Haylett-Petty scored two tries in the Wallabies’ miraculous win and continued to underline his quality in his preferred fullback spot.

His performance was impressive enough on its own merit but it went up another notch when it was revealed he had been suffering from illness in the week leading up to the match.

Though he was always confident of playing, Haylett-Petty was absent from training on Friday and it wasn’t until game day that he began to turn a corner.

“I always felt like I was going to feel much better come game time and our medical staff did a really good job getting me right,” he said.

“I was obviously a little bit nervous pre-game but once I got out there and started to warm up I felt pretty good and I was able to get through 80.

“The plan was always to play so just took Friday to get right and felt much better waking up this morning and had a bit of time in the sun and was ready to go.”

Haylett-Petty has been one of the Wallabies’ best since switching to fullback permanently, with Israel Folau on the wing, and though he started poorly along with the rest of his teammates in Salta, he eventually became close to the match-winner.

His shift to 15 is one that the Wallabies look like sticking with as coach Michael Cheika heaped praise on Haylett-Petty and Folau post-match.

"He's been sick all week, too. He didn't train on Friday, he's been quite ill," he said.

"That was one of the reasons I went with a 5-3 but in the end he was going so good I couldn't take him off.

"A couple of guys, I feel sorry for the guys who didn't get a run but when players are on a roll like that, you don't want to be making any changes if you can avoid it.

"He's done well and in the same breath too, Izzy has really managed that roving role he's got out there excellently."

Haylett-Petty admitted he couldn’t put his finger on the reason why things unravelled so quickly in the first 40 in Salta, only certain that the Wallabies had to ensure it didn’t happen again.

“I don’t know, I think that’s something we need to go back and look at and I think there’s a big lesson there for us,” he said.

“Obviously the second half is how we want to play and the first half is not how we want to play, so to come out and be more consistent in that.

“I think it wasn’t so much technical, it was just heart probably, we knew we had to respond, we knew this was an important game, we’ve been under a bit of pressure as a team and I think the boys came out and responded.”

Haylett-Petty said the Wallabies’ resilience had been showing through in recent weeks, culminating in their unlikely comeback.

“We were probably a bit slow off the mark, it was definitely frustrating but I think we’ve shown throughout this tournament that while it hasn’t all gone our way we’ve been pretty resilient. I think, almost fighting back against them last time, fighting hard and having most of the play against the Springboks last week in the second half and not being able to finish and now to be able to come back and finish (is important),” he said.

The Wallabies left Salta on Sunday night AEDT and will arrive back in Sydney on Monday.