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James O’Connor says improving Wallabies close to ‘epiphany moment’ after draw with Argentina

“We won one out of six,” Rennie said. ‘When you look at it from that perspective, it’s disappointing but we have an understanding of where we’re at and the shifts we need to make. I look forward to seeing how these boys develop and provide pressure to Super Rugby.”

Often players insist their team is close to clicking, but there was palpable frustration in O’Connor’s voice when explaining why the group isn’t as far off the pace as results suggest.

James O’Connor looks on as the Wallabies and Argentina pack a scrum on Saturday. Credit:Getty

“It’s hard because you guys don’t get to see the efforts we put into training and how we’re making gains,” O’Connor said. “Guys who had – not no idea – but literally are just playing off pure instincts, they are learning how to create an extra number, how to play the short side, how to run, where we build pressure.

“A lot of that comes from Dave. We haven’t quite reaped the rewards yet. It’s probably the youngest group we’ve ever had as Wallabies. We’re playing positive rugby. We’re having a crack, we’re having a go. We’re creating stuff. I genuinely believe it is coming.

“With this coaching staff there is a lot of detail and once we fully get that, I believe it’s really going to be an epiphany moment and we’re going to open it up. There’s guys that have grown into this team and I think that young energy is going to start shining. We just need a big Super Rugby season and use this game as a springboard to learn from and keep developing.”


While a draw isn’t a loss, it may as well have been for the Australians who once again failed to put their opponents to the sword in a tight encounter in wet conditions.

For the seventh year in a row, the Wallabies came away from their last game of a calendar year without a victory. A holiday is in order after a longer year than most.

As players returned to their respective states on Sunday, one player who may take more time to forget about the Pumas performance is Reece Hodge, who unfortunately missed another tough penalty with seconds remaining – as he did in Newcastle a fortnight earlier – that would have all but secured victory. He was perfect with the boot before the final kick.

O’Connor has taken his fair share of clutch kicks in Test rugby and sympathised with Hodge, stressing it was an outside chance to go over given the 50-metre carry in poor conditions.

“If anyone is going to hit that, it’s Hodgey,” O’Connor said. “He’s got a huge boot and he has been hitting them very nicely. We put ourselves in a position to win it, it’s on him. These are just the moments you enjoy, especially as a kicker. If I could kick that far I’d take it but I can’t.”

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