Wallabies players don’t realise how good they actually are and need to cotton on quickly as they prepare for another gruelling Rugby Championship assignment.
That’s the view of coach Michael Cheika, who has urged his team to dig deeper in the clinches and back themselves when the going gets tough.
Australia’s attention has shifted to next weekend’s clash in Argentina, having fought out a thrilling 27-27 draw with South Africa in Bloemfontein.
Cheika said the biggest lesson to come from the match for his new-look squad was that they can keep going for longer than they think they can.
“A lot of our guys are coming off a lot of negative criticism in the early part of the season and a lot of blokes probably don’t think … you’ve got to get guys believing,” he said.
“We should understand mentally how much more we’ve got in our tank.
“When we get tired, we’ve been training at a high intensity. In the fitness game we stayed in it but I thought we had a lot more in us, especially with the finishers.
“Mentally we’ve got to say, right, this is uncomfortable but I’ve got more in me, I can keep going.”
Cheika said there was evidence that it was already happening or else when the Springboks surged in the second half, the Wallabies would have wilted – but they’re not doing it for long enough.
He said the clash against Los Pumas in Mendoza was “really important” for the team’s continued progress and development.
“This year, that’s what it’s about – building that inside,” he said.
“I like the group of players we’ve got. We’ll be sticking with them.”
The stalemate at the Free State Stadium ensured New Zealand finished top of the Rugby Championship for the fifth time in six years, before the world champions continued their unbeaten tournament with a 36-10 win over Argentina.
However, the Wallabies can still finish as runners-up if they beat Argentina and the All Blacks account for the Springboks in Cape Town next weekend.
That would set them up nicely for their upcoming Bledisloe Cup dead rubber in Brisbane.
“We could finish second like we did last year off the back of a first 40 minutes of the Rugby Championship that was a little bit diabolical,” Cheika said.
“If you look at it in perspective where we’ve been this year, bar one game, where we had the comeback against New Zealand, we’ve been right up there – either winning or losing at the last minute or drawing with a team that is still relatively light on experience.
“Finishing second would be a good reward and then we’ve got to get our eyes on finishing first next year.”