Wallabies look for positives from Ireland loss
Updated: September 18, 2011, 23:21
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) Winger Drew Mitchell says two-time world champion Australia hopes to become the first team to win a Rugby World Cup after finishing second in its pool, putting a positive spin on its predicament after Saturday's shock loss to Ireland.
Wallabies players seemed resigned on Monday to the fact their 15-6 loss to Ireland at Eden Park will see them finish second in Pool C, likely forcing them into a quarterfinal clash with reigning world champion South Africa.
Mitchell said coach Robbie Deans had responded calmly to the Wallabies' setback, encouraging the players to focus on the challenge presented to them by a new route to the final.
"He (Deans) is a pretty measured type of guy,'' Mitchell said. "Thre was no blowing up or anything like that.
"He certainly made the boys aware of the opportunity that we had (against Ireland) and I guess now the opportunity that stands in front of us, and that's to hopefully get that second position in our pool and to be the first team to win the World Cup from that position.
"That's how we have to approach it. That's the opportunity we have in front of us and that's the challenge we've got ahead.''
Wallabies players faced a video horror session on Monday afternoon, sitting down together to watch the Ireland match and to review where their campaign temporarily became derailed.
Mitchell said once the match had been watched and analyzed, players would be eager to look forward, no further in the first instance than this Friday's match against the United States.
"The boys are still pretty gutted about it,'' he said. "We're disappointed but the nature of this tournament is that you've got to move on pretty quickly.
"I guess we'll have our last look at the game this afternoon in our review session and we'll take what we can out of it, good and bad, and then just have to start looking forward.
"You take what you can out of your last performance but the glory of it is we do get the chance to go out and right some of the wrongs from the weekend and just look forward.''
Mitchell said the Wallabies had already determined to some degree where they came unstuck against Ireland. Monday's video session would help to make the lessons learned from Saturday's match clearer and more enlightening.
"It's probably no secret that some of our decision-making worked against us,'' he said.
"We played the game too much in our own half, especially with the way the Irish were holding up our ball-carriers, turning over ball and just mounting pressure through penalty goals as well.
"Our discipline probably wasn't quite where it needed to be and that just put pressure on us. I think going forward, especially in those conditions, we've got to start looking at playing the game at the right end of the field.''
Mitchell steered a safe course when asked if it might be a good thing for the Wallabies to face South Africa in the quarterfinals; after all, they beat the Springboks twice this season on the way to winning the Tri-Nations title for the first time in 10 years.
He first apologized for the cliche then delivered one, saying the Australian players were taking each game as it comes and looking no further forward than Friday's match against the United States.
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, perhaps less adept at fancy footwork than the winger Mitchell, was more willing to broach that question. Also asked whether the Wallabies might fancy the Springboks as a quarterfinal opponent, Polota-Nau replied "definitely.''
"From the result on Saturday who knows what will happen, particularly with the early results in the first round, so I think all the teams are definitely putting their best foot forward,'' he said.
"Hopefully, if we can come with the intensity we worked on in the Tri-Nations and carry that throughout the rest of the World Cup campaign there will be a lot of things for us to look forward to.
"For us (losing to Ireland) is definitely a wakeup call but, having said that, we've still got an opportunity to make the finals so hopefully we can grab it with both hands.''