Mid-week captain Dean Mumm is urging the Wallabies’ second-stringers to restore some lost pride in the gold jumper in Tuesday night’s tour match against the Cardiff Blues (kick-off 0635 Wednesday AEDT).
Quade Cooper’s elevation to the Test side after Australia’s 36-5 trouncing of Gloucester three weeks ago proved the mid-week fixtures are more than just a developmental exercise for fringe players.
But the penultimate match of the five-week tour has taken on even greater importance following the shock loss to Scotland on Saturday.
“What better way for us to get an opportunity so close after having a disappointing loss to pull ourselves back on track and aim up both in this game and on the weekend (in the Test against Wales),” Mumm said.
Mumm, who played the final half hour in the painful 9-8 defeat in Edinburgh, says the onus is on the mid-weekers to ensure the Wallabies don’t suffer another demoralising loss before the tour-ending Test at Millennium Stadium.
“Certainly I relish the opportunity to get rid of the memories from the weekend and that’s the way we’re going to have to approach it.”
Still struggling to come to terms with Australia’s first loss to Scotland since 1982, the Wallabies had a light-hearted social gathering on Monday night where every player and support staff had to come dressed as another.
Mumm went as his NSW Waratahs teammate Kurtley Beale, while embattled coach Robbie Deans donned a blond wig for his best impersonation of winger Peter Hynes.
“That lifted the spirits again. It was a bit of fun,” Mumm said.
“But, in terms of strictly rugby, this game against Cardiff is a wonderful opportunity to get out there and execute the way we want to and stamp our name on this tour a little bit.”
Teenage five-eighth Matt Toomua and prop Pek Cowan will make their starting debuts for the Wallabies in the non-cap match, while young reserve backs Richard Kingi and Luke Morahan are also in line for their maiden appearances.
Kingi, 21, is particularly hungry for some game time, having spent the past six weeks with the Wallabies, including the pre-tour camp, waiting for his big chance.
The homesick father of three had been planning on just three weeks away with the Australian sevens team before receiving a surprise call-up.
“My daughter’s starting to walk so I’m missing out on that, but it wouldn’t be for anything else,” Kingi said.
The Cardiff side features former Brumbies and Waratahs utility back Sam Norton-Knight, who will line up at five-eighth against the Wallabies.
AUSTRALIA: James O’Connor, Lachie Turner, Ryan Cross, Tyrone Smith, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Luke Burgess, Richard Brown, Matt Hodgson, Mitchell Chapman, Dean Mumm (capt), Dave Dennis, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan. Replacements: Salesi Ma’afu, Matt Dunning, Mark Chisholm, George Smith, Richard Kingi, Quade Cooper, Luke Morahan.