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18 Sep 2011 06:41
Australia’s shock defeat to Ireland was an “education” for the players in the realities of the World Cup and had brought them early to the point where no further losses were possible, coach Robbie Deans said on Sunday.
The Tri-Nations champions, who boast the youngest squad in the tournament, were ambushed by a team of seasoned Irish campaigners at Eden Park on Saturday, losing 15-6 in their second Pool C encounter.
“There’s no doubt there was an education, particularly for a number of players who are in their first World Cup, because it is distinct,” Deans told reporters.
“We have to learn more if we are to push on and achieve anything that we hope.”
The Australians should still safely negotiate their remaining group games against the United States and Russia to qualify as one of the top two teams in Pool C.
“It’s certainly a taste of reality, but it’s not something we’re unfamiliar with, it’s part of the game and that potential is there every time you enter a game,” Deans added.
“That was always going to come within the tournament context ... for every team in this tournament, the point arrives when you can no longer lose again.
“It’s just come a little early for us.”
The defeat means Australia are, however, now likely to end up in the same side of the draw as defending champions South Africa and hosts New Zealand for the knockout stage.
While Deans said they would not “waste one second” looking beyond this Friday’s match against the US, flyhalf Quade Cooper conceded their task had been made more difficult.
“That’s the good thing about this tournament, we’re still in it, it’s just going to be a harder path now,” he said.
Deans again refused to blame the disruption of the loss on matchday of influential flanker David Pocock and hooker Stephen Moore, who was sick, for the defeat.
The New Zealander said he was unsure whether Pocock would be fit to face the Americans, although scans had confirmed that the tightness in his back was “nothing sinister”.
Pocock would certainly have helped at the breakdown against an outstanding Irish back row, while Moore’s absence almost certainly contributed to the instability in the front row which led to the Australians being penalised five times at the scrum.
“We can’t keep giving away penalties at scrum time and we need to address that,” said captain James Horwill.
“In this tournament, the teams that dominate that contact area, the breakdown area, are usually the teams that get the result they want so that’ll be a focus for us.”
The Wallabies have rebounded in some style from defeats to Samoa and New Zealand this year and Horwill indicated they were determined to do the same again this week.
“The beauty is that while we’re disappointed with the way we played and the outcome, we get to play again in six days.
“We get to right some wrongs with the way we went about things on Saturday night.
“The focus now is on the USA.
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