PORTELIZABETH (Reuters) – Australia will relish the opportunity to be away on tour and sheltered from home criticism as they complete this year’s Rugby Championship with tests in South Africa and Argentina over the next fortnight, forward Allan Alaalatoa said on Monday.
“Being away from Australia can be good for us,” the Wallaby prop told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match against the Springboks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“It will give us a chance to connect a bit more. I’m sure this will bring us closer together.”
The Wallabies go into the weekend looking to put behind them a rare home defeat at the hands of Argentina that has piled criticism on the team and left them under pressure.
Three defeats in four games in this year’s southern hemisphere championship threatens them with last place in the four-nation competition.
“We know it will be only us once we are out there on the field and we will have just each other to draw on to push through the barrier. I think it’s a good time for us to be away on tour,” Alaalatoa added.
Australia traditionally complete the Rugby Championship fixtures with two away games and Alaalatoa added he felt this was an advantage as the team was more likely to be nearing its full potential towards the end of the season.
“We’re heading towards that point where we are developing and really getting to know our game plan,” he said.
Team mate Ned Hanigan, likely to be restored to the starting line-up for Saturday’s test, said the 23-19 loss to Argentina on the Gold Coast earlier this month still hurt.
“We’ve had a lot of hard conversations since the result against Argentina. You can’t leave what happened there behind completely,” he said.
“There are some learnings that have come out of it. We can’t kick stones, we have got to grab the situation and turn things around.”
After Saturday’s game in Port Elizabeth, Australia travel to Argentina to meet the Pumas in Salta on Oct. 6.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Christian Radnedge)