The heat is slowly building on Dave Rennie, but ahead of Saturday’s Wallabies clash with the Springboks in Adelaide’s top flight, Allan Ala’alatoa says his squad “needs to be held accountable” after a dreadful last start.
From leaking tackles to falling tackles, the Colts were horrendous against Argentina’s Michael Cheka’s Los Pumas earlier this month in a 48-17 loss in San Juan. Defensive line coach Matt Taylor paid the price for the loss.
The disappointing loss followed a character-filled bonus-point win in Mendoza a week ago and the Whalers were able to bounce back from a difficult week, including the sudden departure of captain Michael Hooper.
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There has been an edge about the Wallabies off and on the field since we reconvened on the Gold Coast on Sunday evening.
The Colts have been rocketed in recent times and the players now know very well that enough is enough.
“I think the boys are really good after the last game,” said Alaalatoa, one of the few starters to miss Argentina’s test.
We talked about it as players, we thought we had the right game plan from the coaches but as players we weren’t good enough to go on the pitch – and that’s our job. We have to be responsible for this.
“We had some tough discussions yesterday in review, but it’s up to us to implement this weekend.
“We got some good extras in the camp, it was a bit of a good experience, we had a sweet taste in our mouths after the last game and, unfortunately, we went on vacation so the kids will be thinking about it for a long time.
“Everybody came in our big training session this morning and had that edge, so this morning is a good feeling for our preparation.”
Alaalatoya is expected to come straight into the squad following his withdrawal due to personal issues, while Tanila Tupu is expected to come off the bench.
The pairing against the Springboks’ “bomb squad” could shape the Test landscape very well, a group that is always at odds with any South African side.
It was a good performance for Tupou, who has been underwhelming since returning from injury in the second Test against England last month.
Meanwhile, Andrew Kellaway has declared himself fit to return and is favored to wear the No.15 jersey after missing the last four Tests through injury.
But it will be treated as a tough first-round task as the Springboks could pepper the Wallabies’ trio after their horror display in San Juan.
Both Curtley Beale and Bernard Foley are expected to miss out on the Springboks as they rejoin the squad.
Kellaway said their return boosted the team.
“They’re both big guys,” Kellaway said.
“Curtly brings his contagious laugh wherever he goes. He’s boosting his morale first, that he’s one of those guys who lifts everyone up around him and that’s a great thing.
“They’re both coming back from France and Japan with their own experience and they’re trying to share that experience with a few of the younger guys and the older guys, but for the most part I think just being around them gives everybody else a lot of confidence,” he said.
Meanwhile, reports of ‘scrum clocks’ and changes to the rules surrounding the ‘deliberate tackle’ rule in future Super Rugby seasons have been welcomed.
Alaalato said he understands the importance of making the game as exciting as possible, but he has to make it into the game due to injuries.
“As players, we understand that we have to put something in place to make it more attractive to the public,” he said.
If this is how we need to change the game, we need to implement it in training first, or at least take a year to practice (because) if we don’t, someone will get hurt.
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Kellaway, however, said he would be “rubbish” about the proposed rule changes for the Super Rugby Pacific season.
“We have to be careful, don’t we?” Kellaway said.
It’s the place in the game where you have guys with special skills.
“Other than the backs, everyone else, we’re asking these bastards to squeeze their spines for a living. And a suitor has the nerve to ask them to hurry. If I hadn’t, fortunately, which I’m not, I’d be pretty cool about it.
“I think there are a lot of other areas in the game that we can choose from. It’s another thing to spoil it before we start picking through it.
Kellaway, for his part, supported changes to the way the playoff rules are handled on purpose, and added that the proposed draft would only benefit the game.
“A little understanding would be nice,” he said. “I don’t agree with it. I don’t make the rules, we just have to deal with it. We have to get better at adapting to that and playing by those rules, until they change, unfortunately.
He added: “Rugby union’s biggest strength as a game, in my view, is that it’s played all over the world. And we have to shout that from the rooftops, and if something like this happens, we can move men home a little bit.