Wallabies switch focus to the Boks

Australia ended a three-year losing streak against New Zealand at the weekend, but Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock tempered the celebrations by reminding his teammates that the 20-15 triumph in Melbourne was just the “first” step to World Cup glory.

Next in line for the rejuvenated Australian side is the Springboks, whom they will meet in Sydney this coming Saturday.

Midfielder Scott Staniforth, who scored the match-winning try eight minutes from time, revealed how Mortlock called the players into a huddle at the end of the game and reminded the team of the bigger goals ahead.

“He got us all together and said to ‘settle down’,” Staniforth told The Daily Telegraph.

“He told us this is just step one [on the road to the World Cup].”

Mortlock said he wanted the Wallabies to enjoy the moment, but not lose sight of the future.

“The reality was we achieved what we wanted to do on Saturday night,” he said.

“That win over the All Blacks was a long time coming and there was a massive amount of excitement.

“But there are still a lot of things ahead of us. We have the rest of this Tri-Nations series, a game against the Springboks on Saturday, and the World Cup a couple of months away.”

According to the newspaper it was revealed that Mortlock recovered from being knocked unconscious to deliver the killer blow to New Zealand.

The veteran outside centre told The Daily Telegraph he handed over the goal-kicking duties to Matt Giteau midway through the second half, while struggling to shake off the effects of an earlier brain-rattling head knock.

“At one stage we got a penalty and I was asking Stephen Larkham and Nathan Sharpe what they thought we should do,” he said. “I dead set didn’t have much clarity in my thoughts.

“I was a bit fuzzy and wasn’t confident about having to focus on kicking.”

But Mortlock, eight minutes from the end, scythed through the All Blacks’ midfield, racing from halfway to the Kiwi quarter before off-loading to replacement centre Scott Staniforth, who crossed for the match-winning score.

“We know we can do a helluva lot better,” Mortlock said. “But that’s a real positive because we still won the game.

“In that first half we couldn’t have done much worse. All we did do well was scramble and we were lucky to go in only nine points down.

“What these last two Tests [including a narrow 19-22 loss to the Springboks in Cape Town] have shown is the character within this team. The grit, the determination and the belief have been outstanding.”

 

365 Digital

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