Wallabies forward coach Geoff Parling says he’s satisfied with how his new-look set piece combination acclimatised to the pressures of Test Rugby, particularly after half time, during the first Bledisloe Test in Wellington on Sunday.
Speaking to the media earlier today, Parling conceded Australia’s lineouts still remain an area for improvement, but praised Rebel Matt Philip, for his ability to absorb the first half challenges and play a pivotal role in his side’s thrilling ten-point comeback.
“I thought we handled the pressure well at half time and adjusted well there,” said Parling.
“People saying a couple of lineouts were lost, well they lost a couple as well.
“I was actually pretty happy with them both (Matt Philip and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto) and I thought they both played well and had a lot of good involvements.
"Some of the carrying work in tight and the leg drive to get us over the gain line was pretty important.
“We’ll keep looking at things, but we certainly got to back the guys in there to do a decent job.”
Arriving in Auckland on Monday, the Wallabies began their third week on tour with a strong focus on recovery in preparation for Sunday’s Second Bledisloe Test.
Facing the All Blacks at Eden Park – a ground Australia hasn’t tasted victory on since 1986 – the Wallabies have a chance to re-write the history books in arguably their biggest challenge of the 2020 Test Season.
Coming off a bruising eighty-nine-minute opening encounter, Parling says backing up after just a seven-day break will be as much a mental challenge as physical, but with history on the line, he expects his young side to be fit and firing come Sunday.
“I think it depends on your mindset - If you tell yourself it’s tough, well it’s going to be tough but if you tell yourself I’m about to play New Zealand in Auckland, well you should be ok.”
“It’s the same for both teams, so I’d try not to read into things more than they are.
You played in a hard Test Match and some guys have played more minutes – but so have they.
“We’ll get guys fresh and make sure their recovery is important and get them prepped and go again in training this week.”
Should there be any last-minute changes up front, waiting in the wings will be Rebels pair Jermaine Ainsely and Pone Fa’amausili, both of whom have been “training the house down,” according to experienced Wallabies prop, Allan Alaalatoa.
Parling agreed, adding their strong recent performances on the track exemplified both players' fierce commitment to the team and was a great testament to their strong characters.
“Pone came in with a little bit of a niggle, so he’s good now – I think he’s been training well now.”
“Certainly Jermaine – early doors – was pushing pretty close and was doing a lot of good things.
"It’s about those guys that aren’t in the squad, to be reacting the right way if they’re not in.
“I think it can show a lot about someone’s character and they certainly reacted well last week and will continue to push our boys in training.”
The Wallabies face the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe Cup Test on Sunday, October 18 at Eden Park, Auckland. Kick-off is at 2PM (AEDT).