Wallabies inspired by Origin underdogs win


The Wallabies are drawing inspiration from Queensland’s State of Origin boilover as they strive to produce their own backs-to-the-wall victory over the All Blacks.

Just as the Maroons were given little hope of toppling NSW in rugby league’s showpiece series opener, the Wallabies have been written off after relinquishing the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th consecutive year with last Saturday’s record 42-5 defeat in Sydney.

But Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said his underdogs should take heart from the rookie Queenslanders ahead of Saturday night’s final Bledisloe stoush in Brisbane.

“I loved the game last night. What I loved about it was Queensland found themselves down and under pressure and they fought their way back into it,” Rennie said.

“Versus what we tried to do last week was try and create a few miracles and (we) lacked patience, so there’s a good lesson for us as well.”

Rennie said as good as the All Blacks are, they “absolutely” possess weaknesses, too, which the Wallabies can exploit at Suncorp Stadium.

“The frustration for us is we’ve lacked the patience or lacked communication or lacked the accuracy to expose them,” he said.

“We still expect those opportunities to be there. It takes courage and takes a lot of work rate off the ball.

“But, as we showed in Wellington, if you can hang onto the ball you can apply a bit of pressure and because we didn’t turn the ball over, we didn’t give them a lot of ball.

“We kicked with time and space because certainly off turnover and counter they can hurt you.

“So really in Wellington we were accurate.

“Really, we need to be at our best to knock the All Blacks over and we need to apply pressure to them.”

Back-rower Harry Wilson said the Wallabies needed to same the composure as the Maroons to compete with the All Blacks.

“Obviously, especially the last few games, we haven’t started very well, just the way Queensland (didn’t),” Wilson said.

“Even when they were down, they were very calm and I guess didn’t get too flustered.

“Then in the second half, they just went out there and played footy and just slowly grind and grind until they got the points on the board.

“Obviously we don’t want to be that in position early in games when we’re down by a fair few points.

“But it is something I guess we can look on if we are down that we can just get get back to playing the right footy, playing in their end and building pressure, which could be very beneficial for us.”





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State Of Origin 2020: ‘Easier being underdogs’


‘”I haven’t worried about their team [Queensland] at all, and the feeling I get is if we get it right and with the experience we have here, we’ll win. It’s as simple as that,” Fittler said before Tuesday’s captain’s run at NSW’s Sydney Olympic Park training base.

“Every time they train I feel more comfortable. But we haven’t had the more experienced team or been favourites in a long time.

The NSW Blues squad in training.Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Images

“A lot of times in history when we’ve been in that situation, we haven’t handled it that well. This is a great opportunity.

“We spoke about it early. In history, we’ve never won more than three in a row but we’ve had eras where we’ve had better teams than Queensland for a long time. Time will tell.

“All Australians handle being the underdog, it’s easier being the underdog, it’s more challenging when you’re sitting on top … what a great test for them. I’m just aiming for a great performance tomorrow night.”

Fittler knows his team is superior to the one that won a second straight series last year. The addition of Luke Keary is a boost, Jack Wighton won the Dally M, Clint Gutherson and Junior Paulo have brought plenty of energy, and ”hopefully we can get a kick out to Toops [Daniel Tupou]”.

However, north of the border they continue to drop like flies. Bennett complained of further injuries on Tuesday to his outside backs.

One burning question for Fittler will be how he uses Cody Walker off the bench. He is still not entirely sure.

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“I listen to a lot of coaches talk about plans, you need a couple of plans, but you also need to be able to wing it,” he said.

“We have plans for different things if different people get tired or injured. You have to wing it. If something happens you haven’t planned for, it’s like, ‘hold on tight’.”

The Blues are chasing a third straight series triumph, and victory in Origin I would put them in the box seat to rap up the series in Sydney on Wednesday week.

With Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk keeping the borders closed to greater Sydney – and keeping the bulk of Blues fans out of Suncorp Stadium for Origin III on November 18 – NSWRL boss Dave Trodden told the Herald on the weekend it was only fitting they try and give the locals up north a ”dead rubber”.

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Being the underdogs suits Collingwood against Geelong in semi-final, says Magpies star Taylor Adams


“We’re certainly a team who thought [before the game] we were a genuine flag contender,” Adams said.

It was Adams’ brave decision a week ago that helped the Magpies stay in contention.

Taylor Adams played a key role in Collingwood’s dramatic win over West Coast,Credit:Getty Images

With Collingwood a point up in the epic elimination final and the Eagles streaming towards goal, he changed tack.

Instead of folding back in an effort to defend, he turned his tired body and rushed forward to stop the surging Eagle Tom Cole in his tracks.

Adams was like a firefighter running into a burning house as everyone else took cover.

The resultant turnover enabled Collingwood hang on for a memorable one-point win.

“To be completely honest, it was just another piece of play that was unfolding. If it wasn’t me it would have been another Collingwood player,” Adams said.

“That was just part of my role as a midfielder to get there and protect the corridor.”

Adams only realised later how momentous his act was for Collingwood supporters anxiously watching the game unfold in locked-down Melbourne.

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“I didn’t think too much of it until I got to my phone after the game and realised there were a thousand messages,” Adams said.

He would have had a million texts too if his number had been publicly available given his standing among Magpie fans.

Adams performs when it matters most having earned coaches’ votes in five of the seven finals he has played since his first in 2018.

He earned All-Australian selection this season as he became the gaffer tape that held the Magpies’ midfield together, challenging the opposition to beat him every time he was in a contest.

That makes him an adored Magpie who, despite his Geelong origins, looks at home in the black and white, and, at 181 centimetres, a classic Collingwood “six-footer”.

With a boxer’s flat nose and a 1930s hairstyle he could have been a character in Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory. Instead he’s a thoughtful 27-year-old with a burning desire to help the Magpies win the flag.

His fixation on that goal has never wavered in 2020 as he relocated with the Magpies who, like their opponents in the semi-final, Geelong, have been one of the few teams forced to play football in five states in this remarkable season.

The Magpies shared that vision when they entered the unwinnable match against West Coast with the prize on offer at the end of the month used as a lure.

The Magpies spoke about that premiership goal and then zeroed in on the immediate task as they will do again against the Cats.

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“The motivation is [that] without winning against Geelong we are no chance of going four [wins] in a row,” Adams said.

Adams’ expected battle with Geelong captain Joel Selwood – who had an operation on a dislocated finger last week – is likely to be a short heavyweight bout.

Neither will yield as Selwood is a big-game player too but one will prevail and Adams takes confidence into the game knowing he has also delivered in finals.

“I’m pretty confident with the block of work I have put in in the last two or three years,” Adams said.

“Finals are a different game, a more contested game with maybe a little bit more pressure in terms of heat around the ball and that might suit me, to some degree.”

He sees the challenge against Geelong as similar to the one they overcame against the Eagles, well aware the Cats play football that always makes them tough to beat.

Adams thinks effort, clean hands, a good plan and the speed they showed moving the ball forward of centre against West Coast will give them a strong chance.

Collingwood supporters know luck will be required, too, as they felt some may have fallen their way when Jack Crisp flicked (some would say threw) the ball to Scott Pendlebury after Adams’ famous turnover.

Adams, however, is not so sure. Never one to rely on fortune, he suspects such matters favour the brave.

“I was alongside Jack. I have asked him and he said he got a hand to it so I will take his word for it that it was a handball,” Adams said.

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