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Wallabies back defensive growth as they search for improvements

Mon, 27/09/2021, 5:35 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies win comfortably in Townsville against the Pumas

Despite their recent winning streak, the Wallabies are still searching for improvements off the back of an impressive defensive performance against Argentina.

The Wallabies came away with the 27-8 victory, with admissions from coach Dave Rennie indicating it was still far from the high standards they have set.

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This was shared by prop James Slipper, who conceded whilst the win was nice, they were refusing to get comfortable as they prepare for Saturday's final round.

“That’s the challenge. Us as a squad, we want (to) consistently improve and we’ve built a bit of success over the past couple of weeks which is pleasing but I think ‘Rens’ said it best, there’s plenty of improvement in us,” Slipper said.

“Where we want to be is a lot higher so for us, it’s about training each week and trying to ensure we tick all of the boxes and make sure we’re consistently improving.

“Argentina are a good team so if you don’t keep improving, they’ll find a way to beat you. Our mindset is solely on this weekend and going again.

“...There’s definitely a good feeling in the camp. The boys have worked really hard this year, a lot of boys have been away from home and sacrificed a lot so we’re put a lot of effort into our game and we’re starting to play a game we’re proud of,” he said.

“(But) in the same breath though, there’s a lot of improvement in us. As a player, I’m really enjoying this time, we have had a bit of success the last three games and we’re looking at rounding off the championship with a win.”

Whilst the attacking failed to finish off opportunities at stages of the match, the win was cemented by a near-perfect display of defence, not allowing a single clean break.

They would miss only ten tackles as compared to the Pumas' 31, something which Slipper attributed to the side trusting the patterns put in place by defence coach Matt Taylor.

“We started pretty poorly against the All Blacks. We got found out a couple of times in our systems and in our dominance in the tackle and breakdown,” Slipper admitted.

“I think just simplifying it and making sure players make their tackles and those second actions to put pressure on or get on the ball.

“In terms of the system, it works, it’s just up to the individual player to make sure he brings it on the weekend because it’s Test rugby, all those things add up at the end of the day.

“I think defensively we’re growing. We’ve just had our review and Dan (McKellar) torched us on the maul try we conceded so we’ve been wrapped on the knuckles for that. In pretty much all of game, there’s improvement and by no means do we think we are there, we have a long way to go and this week will be another challenge to put our defence into practice.”

READ MORE:

THE WIN: Wallabies seal victory over Argentina

FIVE THINGS: Experience powers Wallabies home

TITLE SEALING: NZ defeat Springboks in thriller

As the squad looks to build ahead of the Spring Tour, the 32-year-old believes the clarity and clear gameplan put in place by Rennie and the coaching staff has the youthful team in a positive place with the 2023 World Cup on the horizon.

“From a coaches point of view, I think they’ve come together well,” he added. “The players have bought into what they are trying to achieve at the Wallaby level.

“They’re working really good as a group and I guess implementing the way we love to play as well. It’s built on being fit, skilful, powerful, at no stage do we think we’re the final touch but it’s a game plan there’s a lot of clarity and a lot of room for improvement. So as a playing group, we’re very happy under Rens and we’re really enjoying our time.

“What we’ve seen over the past couple of years is a host of new players come in and put their hands up. In terms of where Rugby Australia is going, I think it’s in a positive way.”

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