Bledisloe Cup 2020:James O’Connor set to return for Wallabies as Lukhan Salakaia-Loto sweats on scans


Salakaia-Loto taking his place in the Wallabies pack remains an uncertain proposition, however.

The hardman Reds lock suffered a left ankle injury in the second half of Saturday’s 38-point defeat and was sent for scans on Sunday afternoon.

There isn’t a great deal of depth at lock should Salakaia-Loto be ruled out. Coach Dave Rennie would likely turn to veteran Rob Simmons but impressive Rebels rookie Trevor Hosea is a left-field option.

While the Wallabies wait on Salakaia-Loto’s scans, prop Allan Alaalatoa vowed to not “sugarcoat” any part of the 43-5 loss.

The nature of the 38 point loss – the worst in the 117 year history between the trans-Tasman rivals – was sure to make the team’s video review session on Sunday an uncomfortable couple of hours.

“As a leader, you just have to make sure we don’t sugarcoat anything,” he said.

“We have to hold boys accountable and everyone has to be better across the board.”

While there were almost no positives to pull from Saturday night’s drubbing, Alaalatoa did value the reaction he saw from the team’s new faces post match.

“The boys that made their debut last night – it’s a moment to remember forever. To see them gutted on their debut, it shows that it means something to the team. They’re not just happy putting on the jersey,” Alaalatoa said.

“I think that’s great to see.

“We’ve been in this position before but the longer you hang onto that loss, the worse it will be. That initial feeling of boys being gutted, being devastated is good.”

Noah Lolesio, Fraser McReight, Irae Simone and Tate McDermott crack half-smiles after receiving their first Test caps post-game.Credit:Stuart Walmsley/Rugby AU

Coach Dave Rennie has one almighty task to turn the team around ahead of Saturday’s fourth and final Bledisloe at Suncorp Stadium.

His message to the players post match was simple.

The total turnover count of 19 was unacceptable. The kicking in general play was far too inaccurate. And the inability to stay patient with ball in hand played right into the All Blacks’ plans.

Last night showed what happens when you don’t look after the pill and it showed what happens when you don’t kick accurately,” Alaalatoa said.

Ned Hanigan on one knee during the Wallabies' record loss.

Ned Hanigan on one knee during the Wallabies’ record loss.Credit:Stuart Walmsley/Rugby AU

“That’s what the last two games showed. As a growth, you could look at the difference in all three games and when we’ve gone well we’ve kicked well, we’ve carried well and we’ve held onto the pill.

“The last two games have shown when we don’t do that, it hurts, especially against a side like the All Blacks.”

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