If fans are to expect anything from Bledisloe Cup IV in Brisbane this weekend, look out for a much better effort from the Wallabies compared to what they mustered in Sydney two days ago.
That’s the promise that has been made by rookie Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott, who made his test debut for Australia off the bench in the 43-5 drubbing at ANZ Stadium – the biggest All Blacks win over their Tasman neighbours in 117 years.
“I think it’s more about making amends rather than putting it as in it’s going to be big in the scheme of things,” the 22-year-old said of how he and his side are looking at this weekend’s final Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium.
“For us, we’re going in the same mindset of making amends and doing our best out there, which is what we didn’t put up on the weekend.
“We’ve got a lot to work on. I’m not big on making promises, but what I will promise is that there will be a better showing on the weekend than that was.
“Whoever gets selected, I’m sure they’ll do a wonderful job and represent Australia with pride and passion that probably wasn’t there on the weekend.”
Lessons will have to be absorbed quickly if McDermott and his peers are to deliver on that promise, but the youngster claimed his energetic display off the bench has already acted as a steep learning curve.
Defensive awareness and in-game temperament are just two key aspects of test match rugby that McDermott has attained greater understanding of leading into this weekend’s dead-rubber showdown.
“I came up against TJ Perenara, who’s obviously a pretty experienced campaigner. You saw that [with] that blindside try [to Rieko Ioane] on our five metre line. In hindsight, we should have brought another defender across in order to stop that,” McDermott noted.
“The other one is just having composure out there. I think as a whole team, with the 15 players on there, we need to be cool-headed. We knew the plan, we just didn’t execute it.
“It’s very tough coming on with 20 minutes and trying to change what has been done in that past 60 minutes, particularly against the All Blacks, who are one of, if not the best, in world rugby at the moment.”
Following a record defeat to the All Blacks in Bledisloe Cup III, Wallabies boss Dave Rennie could be set to inject some much-needed experience into his side ahead of the final trans-Tasman test of the year. #BledisloeCup #AUSvNZL https://t.co/vm0WtAIXww
Such a tough induction onto the international stage may have been an overwhelming experience for some, although McDermott is confident nobody within the Wallabies camp is too dismayed about the crushing defeat.
In fact, the loss seems to have left Dave Rennie’s squad in a redemptive mood, with the one-test prospect refusing to make excuses after conceding he and his teammates had let multiple people down.
“I don’t think there’s too many people here that would have their confidence shattered. In saying that, we’re hurting. All of us are hurting. We let so many people down.
“These are the building blocks. We’re not going to make that excuse that we’re a young side and all that rubbish that we’ve done in the past.
“I think that’s the start and we can only go up, so, like I keep saying, we’ve got a lot to work on, and each of us are doing that. We’re trying to get better.”
That eagerness to bounce back strongly partially stems from the envy that came with watching All Blacks captain Sam Cane lift aloft the Blesidloe Cup.
The record defeat on Saturday ensured the All Blacks will keep the esteemed trophy on New Zealand shores for yet another summer as they extend their remarkable iron grip on the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th consecutive year.
In every one of those years, both McDermott and McReight watched on as fans while the likes of Reuben Thorne, Tana Umaga, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read all succeeded each other in showing off the silverware in front of their Australian counterparts.
Saturday handed the youthful pair with their first taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that as a player, and it’s an experience neither of them want to endure again.
“It’s upsetting, it’s disappointing, but at least we know what to expect now so that next year we don’t make the same mistake twice,” McDermott said.
“Personally, it’s actually hard to watch, particularly when you see the smiles on their faces, the disappointment in the crowd, all that kind of little stuff that really eats away at you.
“Not ideal to make your debut and watch Sam Cane lift that trophy, but for me personally, it lit the fire and now we know exactly what we’re working towards.”
Whether or not McDermott and McReight will get an opportunity to try and make up for their team’s shortcomings this weekend remains to be seen, but it should be said that both were impressive in their cameos off the bench.
Making his name as a dangerous attacking threat, McDermott brought plenty of impetus when he replaced incumbent halfback Nic White in the second half, and could even challenge for a starting role in front of his home crowd on Saturday.
McReight, however, was more philosophical in his approach towards selection, acknowledging that the leadership and experience of Wallabies captain Michael Hooper should be too immense for him to surrender the No. 7 jersey anytime soon.
“I’m a seven, I’ve got a pretty good mentor and player in front of me, who is also captain as well, so I’m not really banking on starting anytime soon,” the 21-year-old said of Hooper.
“I’m here to work, I’m here to get better both on and off the field, and I think the best thing I can do is just soak up all the knowledge that Hoops can give me and just be the best person for the team to prepare against.
“For me, I’m going to push at every training, every time I can to make sure I’m in the selectors’ minds, but definitely not thinking of a start. That’s probably too far ahead of my head.
“Would love to get some more minutes on the bench and work my way and achieve that goal to start, but I think I’ve got a bit to work on.”
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