Dave Rennie tried hard to avoid using it as an excuse, but a packed emergency room came back to bite the Wallabies hard in their record loss to the Pumas.
Incredibly, the Sydney Morning Herald was only missing a half-back in the selection of a strong ‘Wallabies sideline XV’, with hooker Folau Fainga’a securing a run there out of position and absent captain Michael Hooper ( personal reasons) also included.
Sideline Wallabies XV: Tom Banks, Izaia Perese, Hunter Paisami, Samu Kerevi, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Folau Fainga’a, Lachie Swinton, Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan, Cadeyrn Neville, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell.
Watch every Rugby League match on the home of rugby, Stan Sport. Continues on August 27 with the Wallabies against the Springboks and the All Blacks against the Pumas. All matches streamed ad-free, live and on demand
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The crisis was exacerbated by the fact that Fainga’a was sent off the day before the game, leaving the Wallabies with a green tandem of Lachlan Lonergan and Billy Pollard in one of rugby’s most important positions.
There is no indication that Hooper will return for the next mission: a daunting clash with the smart Springboks at the Adelaide Oval on August 27.
The Wallabies have stayed in touch with their beloved skipper as he prioritizes his mental health, but it’s understandable he’s also been given plenty of space.
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James Slipper as skipper and Fraser McReight as openside flanker are both doing an admirable job in his absence and Rennie expects to start picking up some cattle when the team lick their wounds and come together to take on the world champions .
The coach hopes Bell, Alaalatoa, Porecki, Kellaway, Paisami, Fainga’a and Scott Sio will be available, although Kerevi and Cooper are irreplaceable cogs.
There is also some intrigue as to whether veteran five-eighth Bernard Foley will be involved in a training capacity or more.
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For now, the coaching staff and players have to resolve some video issues after completely failing to deal with Argentina’s revised shooting strategy in San Juan.
“They scored four tries with kicks – two behind us and two in the air – so we didn’t do a good enough job around that,” Rennie said.
“We lacked cohesion, didn’t we, with some changes. We’ll watch the pictures, but we’re better than that… I’m not looking for excuses.
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“We have to be better, we have to do it. It’s up to us as coaches. It’s up to the players.
“It’s a huge disappointment. We want to earn the respect of the country and you don’t do that with performances like that.
“Although we know we will get a few guys back, whoever puts the shirt on has to be up front. We weren’t good enough today.”
The dejected captain of the Wallabies evokes the defeat of the Pumas
Slipper admitted the team was unable to do even the basics on Sunday.
“And that’s probably the hardest pill to swallow,” the centurion said.
“That’s what makes him pretty gutted.”
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