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Wallabies ready for character test

Date

Greg Growden

Gee-up … Nathan Sharpe addresses the squad last week before the South Africa match.

Gee-up … Nathan Sharpe addresses the squad last week before the South Africa match. Photo: Getty Images

ROSARIO: Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe has told his players that even though they are missing a long line of key performers they can still prove they are a team with special character by rebounding against the Pumas on Saturday night.

The Wallabies arrived in Argentina's third largest city battered by the Springbok experience, bewildered by the wave of injuries they had suffered and battling jet lag after another day of sitting on planes and buses.

Since the Pretoria Test loss, which involved five Australian players leaving the pitch and two being hospitalised with serious injuries, the Wallabies have been wondering whether they would have enough fit bodies to field a team this weekend. But gradually the news on the injury front has brightened.

While Berrick Barnes (punctured lung) and Adam Ashley-Cooper (concussion) remained in South Africa, players who were originally thought to be in serious doubt for the Argentina Test - winger Digby Ioane, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and No.8 Radike Samo - are now expected to be available.

Forwards Sitaleki Timani and Scott Higginbotham, who withdrew during the warm-up in Pretoria due to back concerns, will also return.

The two most pressing spots to fill are fullback, with Mike Harris, Pat McCabe and Dom Shipperley the main contenders, and one centre spot, where Anthony Fainga'a and Ben Tapuai are in contention.

Nonetheless the Wallabies will be unable to have a proper week's preparation for a Test the Argentinians believe will be the moment they secure their first win in the Rugby Championship. As so many players are still recovering, the Wallabies training will have to be light.

So to get the players in the right frame of mind, senior Wallabies have been stressing the point that this is an international where they can prove they can overcome anything.

Sharpe said in the dressing rooms after the South Africa defeat that travelling to Argentina in trying circumstances was a chance to show the true heart and soul of this team.

''I told them that character is something which is eternal,'' he said. ''Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but character underpins everything, and so now we have a good opportunity this week by coming to Rosario and showing what we are really made of. So much revolves around how you respond to adversity.''

Coach Robbie Deans has no doubts the players would have taken to Sharpe's post-match address, because at Loftus Versfeld they had already shown they were not shirkers.

''That character was evident during the Springbok Test,'' he said yesterday. ''It got to a point with the to-ing and fro-ing of yellow cards and injured blokes who weren't allowed to be replaced that it would have been easy for the group to just roll over. But they didn't. So they displayed that character … and that's going to be important this weekend.

''The Pretoria Test was unique. For large parts of the game, we were playing with anything from 12 to 14 men. I've never encountered that before. To be frank, the way the boys hung in there was quite remarkable.''

Sharpe said ''it got to a point where the Test became ridiculous''.

''We played 30 minutes with 14 blokes, with the last few minutes something I'd never experienced before,'' Sharpe said. ''But it was also frustrating because we weren't accurate enough in our breakdown work against the Springboks, which didn't allow us to play. Ironically we finished up pretty strong in that area, playing reasonable football with less blokes, and guys out of position.

''But it's going to be important this weekend because the Argentinians are hard on the ball, if not harder [than the Springboks].''

As important was an improvement at scrum and lineout time.

''We compounded our problems through some of our set-piece work as well,'' Deans said. ''We didn't really provide a good launching platform, which then gave them access to the breakdown, and from there is was difficult … it will be similar this week. We will have to be spot-on with our set-piece to give ourselves our best chance.''

Sharpe agreed: ''They got momentum off their set-piece every single time … they caught us behind the advantage line sometimes.''

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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