Obsessed with winning.
That’s mindset the Wallabies must embrace if they’re to turn one-off performances like Perth into a World Cup-winning run of seven straight victories.
So said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika after arriving home from New Zealand on Sunday, with another dark night at Eden Park in the rear-view mirror.
After a record victory over New Zealand at Optus Stadium a week earlier, the Wallabies went into the second trans-Tasman clash hopeful of beating the All Blacks and reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup.
But they were were dusted 36-0 in Auckland by a fired-up New Zealand team, who were under pressure all week at home.
Asked for the major lesson he and the Wallabies would take from the Eden Park defeat, Cheika said: "Consistency of what it takes to be a winner.”
"The attitude it takes, the preparation, how consistent you have to be, how obsessed you have to be, if you want to be a winner,” Cheika said.
"Because, I will be honest, we weren’t terrible last night. We did a lot of good things but the key moments were dominated by the opposition and that part is when you’re on, and you’re really on and at the next level up, those key moments you take a lot of the time.
"And you could see the difference between the week before and this week, where those opportunities we took last week and we didn’t this week.
"If you break the game down, there were some key moments in areas we dominated last week, that we didn’t dominate as well this week. That was pretty clear right? So the knock-on effects lead to opportunities lost or taken.
"That consistency is really important for us. We know we can play at a good level but we want to play at a better level going into the Cup, and we know at that tournament there are seven games you want to get through with a W, so consistency is absolutely imperative.”
The last time the Wallabies won more than five consecutive games was at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where they made the final. Since, the longest winning run was four wins in 2017.
Cheika conceded the Wallabies were beaten at the breakdown for most of the night at Eden Park, and repeated his belief they’d let the opportunity slip to put scoreboard pressure on in the first quarter.
But despite the heavy loss, the coach said the team was keen to get back on their feet and starting preparing for the World Cup.
"We are hurting but that’s part of the character you get. You get back up now, Cheika said.
"That’s what footy players do. The week before it was the other end of the spectrum.
"The key is to not believe too much of either. Always keep your feet on the ground, understand that most of the success you get comes from hard work. It’s from doing the things you don’t want to do.
"The hard sesssions and enjoying them, because in all walks of life that’s usually the way success is achieved.
"If you look at the series overall, we had a better series than last year, we got one. We got a win on the board in this series, so that’s a positive. We want to improve and build on it."
Cheika said the team had improved since last year's disappointing season, and he pointed to the team building resilience while facing on and off-field dramas, no doubt including the Israel Folau saga, the Kurtley Beale-Adam Ashley-Cooper stand-downs and Cheika facing the axe at the end of last year, too.
"There has been a lot happen off the field. A lot. A lot out there to test our resolve, not neccesairly from us, but we get asked all the question or the microscope comes on us,” Cheika said.
"Whether that’s part of the union or outside of the game or wherever it is. That has tested us, and things at the back half of last year as well.
"And we have been really able to really have done well and be in a very good place to be, to play footy and prepare for footy. I know the disappointment comes from last night, for sure.
"But that camaraderie I suppose helps with being a bit more resilient. That’s already the attitude, we have speaking and they’re already talking about what we’re going to do when we get back together later on this week.
"I have enjoyed this year, they’ve trained hard and been solid together and that’s only going to continue going into the World Cup."