Elsom backs Matt's mentality
November 28, 2009
Matt Giteau would have been practising his goal-kicking this week © Getty Images
The mental anguish caused by missing a match-winning kick might have felled lesser players, but Matt Giteau has the mental strength to overcome his Murrayfield disappointment, according to his skipper Rocky Elsom.
Elsom expects a positive response from fly-half Giteau in Saturday's Test against Wales, after his missed conversion gifted Scotland their first win over Australia in 27 years, and also ruined the team's chances of ending their Grand Slam tour undefeated.
"He is pretty resilient - I think upstairs he is pretty strong, and he has been fine this week," Elsom said. "Obviously, he was disappointed, but he didn't let that show too much during the week.
"You don't want to drag the rest of the team down moping around, and he hasn't been like that at all. Matt has been around a long time, and, as I say, he is very resilient."
Australia are looking for a victorious finale to what has been a difficult year in terms of results. They have won just two of their last 10 Tests, a run that has prompted vociferous criticism down under.
After beating England in their first Tour match, a late Brian O'Driscoll secured a draw for the Irish in Dublin before Scotland held on for a one-point triumph, meaning Australia theoretically fell three points short of arriving in Cardiff with a Grand Slam to play for.
"There haven't been a whole lot in the matches we've played," said Elsom. "But by the same token, there is a reason that things don't go your way. As much as we can say there is not much difference between us coming here for a Grand Slam and being where we are, there is still a reason for that."
Wales versus Australia games have a tradition for being high-scoring encounters with plenty of tries, and many pundits believe Saturday's clash could prove the most entertaining of all the autumn fixtures this year, games that have often been dominated by repetitive bouts of tactical kicking.
Elsom said: "If you look at both sides, they play their best when they are attacking. So you would think it would probably result in a pretty open match tomorrow, but you never know. The atmosphere that gets built up at the Millennium Stadium is phenomenal, and when the roof is closed, it just adds to that."
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde praised the Australian scrum for its quality in recent Tests, claiming it will provide the home forwards with a severe examination.
And Wallabies prop Benn Robinson, one of the major reasons for Australia's scrummaging improvements, is relishing the challenge that awaits at a sold-out Millennium Stadium.
"It will be a big test for us tomorrow," he said on Friday. "Scrummaging-wise, we are always keen to get on the front foot. We are not going out there tomorrow to have a quiet night - we are going out to be as good as we can be."
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