SAINT-ETIENNE – Australia coach Eddie Jones said the Wallabies had already turned their thoughts to next weekend’s do-or-die World Cup clash against Wales after the shock loss to Fiji in their second Pool C match.
Sunday’s 22-15 defeat means the two-times world champions must win their last two pool games against Wales and Portugal to have a chance of avoiding a first ever World Cup exit in the opening round, and even that might not be enough.
After two rounds, Wales lead Pool C on 10 points with Fiji and Australia four points in arrears in second and third place, the Wallabies having clinched a losing bonus point only because Frank Lomani screwed a last-minute penalty wide of the posts.
Jones said his initial thoughts were that his young team had been overawed by Fiji’s power in the opening exchanges on Sunday and had been unable to find their rhythm until the last 20 minutes when he had cleared the bench.
“It’s a harsh learning experience but one that we’ll take into the Wales game,” he told reporters in a video call on Monday.
“And I think we all wish we could play that game today.”
The former England and Japan coach thought the first job this week would be to rebuild the morale of the squad, most of whom are playing their first World Cup.
“We’ve going to work really hard to get the players back on track, so to speak, because when you have a loss like this it knocks you around a bit,” Jones added.
“It knocks you around emotionally, knocks you around team ethics-wise, you start to start seeing shadows in every corner of the room.
“There’s noise from outside which you’ve got to handle and that’s the challenge for the coaching staff this week, to make sure they get the right noise.”
It would be fair to say the outside noise on social media and in the Australian press on Monday was uniformly negative for Jones and his team after a sixth loss in seven tests this year.
The 63-year-old said he was nevertheless relishing the challenge of preparing the team for the meeting with the Welsh next Sunday in Lyon and promised they would be ready.
“There’s no problems with motivation, this team cares a lot about their performance,” he said.
“Sometimes you play against a team that’s a little bit better than you. And if they’re better than you at the start of the game that puts you off, which I think happened against Fiji.
“Wales, they’re a completely different team. They’re a grinding team. They grind away whereas Fiji (was all about) power.” REUTERS