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Sunday 24 September 2017

It's looking All Black for the Wallabies

Australia head coach Michael Cheika. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Australia head coach Michael Cheika. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Underwhelming performances from the Wallabies in the June Test window did little to lift the gloom over Australian rugby and doubts look set to follow them into bigger battles ahead, most notably against the All Blacks.

After a disappointing 2016, low profile June internationals against Fiji, Scotland and Italy offered a chance for Michael Cheika's side to build some momentum before facing off against the southern hemisphere heavyweights in the Rugby Championship.

Two error-strewn wins and a surprise loss to Scotland, however, exposed a worrying lack of belief among a playing group already dealing with uncertainty and plummeting form at Super Rugby level.

"It probably shows where we're at a little bit, probably down on confidence a little bit in that game," captain Stephen Moore said after a huge scare in the 40-27 win over 15th-ranked Italy.

The 2015 World Cup finalists have slipped to fourth in world rankings but have plunged deeper in the estimations of a frosty fan-base as winter sets in across the lower half of the country.

Cheika reached out with a phone call to one disaffected fan after the Scotland loss but would need a call-centre working around the clock to soothe the critics tearing up the Australian Rugby Union's Facebook page.

Patience is also wearing thin among former players and pundits who see dark times ahead against the world champion All Blacks, who monstered a good British and Irish Lions side 30-15 last weekend.

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