Wallabies need to eliminate 'What if?' in 2018

On paper, 2017 has been a hard one to read for the Wallabies, with ebbs and flows as violent as any in recent memory.

Seven wins from 14 Tests could be considered a pass, with five defeats – at the hands of England, New Zealand and Scotland – the blemishes on a generally positive year.

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A win over the All Blacks in Brisbane, and a near-upset in Dunedin, provided hope for Australian fans in a grim rugby landscape, but that positivity was snuffed out at times as well – in Sydney against the Scots and then New Zealand, and more recently, the record defeats at the hands of England and Scotland to end the season.

Among those defeats there are some stinging marginal moments, and some for which the Wallabies have only themselves to blame.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley, speaking before Australia’s 53-24 defeat in Edinburgh, said they couldn’t occupy themselves with what might have been, instead simply needing to find a way forward, something that is potentially even more pressing in the wake of Sunday’s (AEDT) match.

“Although we could’ve been extremely proud of every effort, we could’ve had different results and it could’ve been a lot more in our favour but we’re not looking at that,” he said to RUGBY.com.au

“We’ve also seen how difficult it is to win away from home and how difficult it is to win in these different environments, in the northern hemisphere against these sides.

“For us to start learning, start finding ways to win, is something that’s really going to be valuable for this team going forward.”

The critical moment will be the next one, and that comes well before Australia runs out against Ireland in June next year, with an abysmal Super Rugby year a wrong that must be righted after the heartache that many have gone through in 2017.

Foley, whose Waratahs were among the worst offenders when it came to anti-climactic seasons, wants 2017 to be a motivator for change, immediately.

“Every team can reflect on how poor the Super Rugby season was and hopefully we learn from that, hopefully that’s a catalyst for change and a catalyst for doing things, not making assumptions and making players, everyone more accountable to go out there and perform at your best every week,” he said.

“You can’t just do that when you put on a gold jersey, you’ve got to be doing that through the entire season, every chance you get to play, you should be putting your best foot forward and I think the teams will definitely be a lot stronger and a lot better prepared next season.”

The spine of the Wallabies’ backline has come together in the back end of the year, though the return of Israel Folau will add another element to that, particularly when it comes to Kurtley Beale.

It’s Beale, Foley and Will Genia who will, and even are now, the directors of so much about the Wallabies, on and off the field, and Foley said their varied journeys to this point, with Genia and Beale entrenched in Australia after overseas stints, would enhance the team as the 2019 Rugby World Cup nears.

“We’ve spoken about it (composure) and definitely wanted to tap into all our resources in being better in that area,” he said.

“We saw how much KB has grown in that area, especially from his time up here.

“That’s a big asset to him, he’s a really good person to discuss, to talk about those strategies and about playing different styles of rugby, rather than maybe the one style he’d already thought about and only ever thought about and then coming up here, having his experience up here with Wasps, gave him a different perspective or probably a well-rounded view on how rugby can be played in different styles.

“I think he’s really brought that back to us, Will as well with his experiences up here, but also just managing games.

“The maturity has grown in that area – can we be better? probably – but that’s going to be something we keep chasing.”

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