Life after World Cup begins for Wallabies
June 14, 2000
Barely six months after winning rugby union's most prized possession, the Wallabies have conceded there is a dangerous side to their great mate Bill.
Better known as the William Webb Ellis Trophy, Bill belongs to the Wallabies until at least 2003 after their celebrated World Cup triumph last November. But coach Rod Macqueen today conceded the Wallabies had to deal with the pressure of the world champion tag starting with Saturday night's Test against Argentina at Ballymore.
Macqueen is satisfied his players are coping well at their training base at Caloundra - where they spent most of last year preparing to "Bring Back Bill".
"We need to put the World Cup behind us and look ahead but it's a daily thing for us," Macqueen said. "We're always reminded of it from the press, from people in the street, it's just the way it is.
"But we're not ignoring it. We know we're going in there as world champions and we have to make sure we do the hard work. I haven't seen any evidence of complacency, I've only seen evidence that people are keen to get on with it and work hard."
The Wallabies at least know they have a battle on their hands after Argentina won their opening tour match against a depleted Queensland on Tuesday night. The Pumas clung on for a 35-29 win but the strength of their forward work was enough to suggest they'll be more than a speedhump for the Wallaby pack.
"They are not the easybeats they used to be but, saying that, Australia's record against them is pretty appalling," Macqueen said. "They're fifth in the world, maybe even better than that at the moment and they're a different team with (Agustin) Pichot in there.
"He's a great organiser behind a very strong, committed pack and that can make it very difficult for a side in their first game. We have to do the basics right. We have to crawl before we walk."
Pichot - the Pumas' little general - was among several players rested against Queensland but the star halfback is 80 per cent certain he will shake a shoulder injury for the Ballymore Test.
The Pumas need his flair behind a forward pack likely to be without prop Roberto Grau, who suffered a rib injury against the Reds. Grau still managed to run lightly on Wednesday morning but there was worse news for fringe flanker Lucas Ostiglia, who will return home with a serious knee injury.
The Wallabies have enjoyed a trouble-free preparation, with flanker David Wilson handling contact work this week. The 72-Test veteran had been Australia's only injury concern but his fractured sternum has healed, allowing him to play his first match since April 29.
The Australian forwards went indoors this morning for lineout practice before returning to the training field for a session this afternoon.
"We've got to be reasonably happy with where we are and we've had a couple of good sessions," Macqueen said.
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