Wal­la­bies not fit enough – skip­per

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE: Aus­tralia’s Su­per Rugby teams have failed to pro­duce play­ers fit enough for Test rugby, leav­ing the Wal­la­bies scram­bling to pre­pare for big­ger tests to come against the All Blacks in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, ac­cord­ing to cap­tain Stephen Moore.

Aus­tralia laboured in a 40-27 win over Italy in Bris­bane on Satur­day, fad­ing badly in the sec­ond half be­fore grab­bing two late tries to stave off an em­bar­rass­ing de­feat.

None of Aus­tralia’s five Su­per Rugby teams have beaten New Zealand op­po­nents this sea­son and Moore said play­ers were head­ing into the in­ter­na­tional sea­son un­der­done.

“It shouldn’t be hard for Su­per Rugby to pro­duce play­ers that are ready for Test match footy,” Moore told lo­cal me­dia.

“I don’t know what the is­sue is there, but we need to make sure the next two months or what­ever it is ... we can’t waste a day.

“There is a gap be­tween Su­per Rugby and Test rugby, the in­ten­sity’s up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t train like we have to play Test footy.”

Aus­tralia host the world cham­pion All Blacks in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship opener in Syd­ney on Au­gust 19.

Af­ter eas­ing past Fiji in the first of the three June in­ter­na­tion­als in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia suf­fered a sur­prise 24-19 loss to Scot­land in Syd­ney last week be­fore their huge scare against Italy at Lang Park.

While claim­ing ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for his play­ers’ fit­ness, Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika said he had needed to flog his charges on the train­ing track and would have “dis­cus­sions” with his coun­ter­parts in Su­per Rugby.

“If we didn’t do it over these three weeks and start that, it’ll be too late for later on,” he said.

“Maybe that’s taken some of the edge off some of our per­for­mances be­cause we’ve been go­ing hard at it.

“We’ve got to work ex­tra hard and we’ve got to be pre­pared to work even harder once we come out of Su­per Rugby for that lit­tle block to be ready, be­cause at least the fit­ness base can let us be in the hunt.

“Then, from there, it’ll be how good as foot­ballers we are.”

The Wal­la­bies play­ers re­turn to Su­per Rugby next month for the fi­nal two rounds of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Most will have plenty of time to work on their fit­ness, with four of Aus­tralia’s teams al­ready con­firmed to miss the play­offs. – Reuters

STEPHEN MOORE

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