Wallabies out to break Tri Nations drought
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Forget the Rugby World Cup, the success-starved Wallabies insist they only have an appetite right now for Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup glory.
It has been exactly a decade since Australia last won the Tri Nations tournament and nine years since the Wallabies held the Bledisloe Cup.
So long has it been between drinks that veteran lock Nathan Sharpe is the only player in Australia’s current 40-man squad to have had his hands on either trophy.
And Sharpe only did so because he was a member of the Wallabies squad that retained the Bledisloe Cup with a 1-1 drawn series against the All Blacks in 2002.
Heading into Saturday night’s Tri Nations opener against South Africa in Sydney, Wallabies’ stalwarts like Sharpe, skipper Rocky Elsom and dumped 92-Test midfielder Matt Giteau have nothing to show for years of toil against Australia’s fierce southern hemisphere rivals.
Hooker Stephen Moore said it is high time the Wallabies re-stocked the trophy cabinet at ARU headquarters with some meaningful silverware.
“That’s something the guys are aware of and we’re pretty desperate for,” Moore told AAP on Wednesday.
“We haven’t won the Tri Nations or the Bledisloe for a long time, so it’s a great opportunity for us to challenge for that again.
“I know most of the guys in the squad here are desperate to tick that off the list and that’s something we’re firmly focused on in the short term.
“The World Cup is down the track but there’s plenty to do prior to that.
“You’ve got the Mandela (Challenge) Plate, the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri Nations … if we really knuckle down in these next four games, we can potentially win those trophies.”
While the World Cup comes along only every four years, Moore said annual bragging rights between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are every Test player’s goal.
“If you talk amongst the players, they put those trophies right up there with the World Cup,” he said.
“If you talked to any of the All Blacks or the South Africans, they’d say that as well.
“The Tri Nations is always a fiercely-contested tournament and I’m sure this year will be no different.
“So we’ve got to start well this weekend. That’s the immediate task at hand – playing well on Saturday against South Africa to get our campaign off to a good start.”
Lock James Horwill, returning to the international arena for the first time in 19 months after missing last season with a knee injury, said securing some elusive trophies would give the Wallabies great momentum heading to the World Cup, starting in New Zealand in September.
“There’s three big bits of silverware that we want to get our hands on before we even think about the World Cup,” he said.
“It starts this weekend with the Mandela Plate. If we win this weekend, we get to keep that and that puts us in good stead for the following trophies.”
On a personal level, Horwill is looking forward to playing his first Test with young Queensland second-row partner Rob Simmons.
“We’ve got an understanding of what each other does. There’s things you can get to know about someone by just playing with them,” he said.
“Not verbal communication, just that you know what they’re going to do and are about.
“So Rob and I have had a good combination so far and it’s still developing and I’m pretty excited to be playing our first Test together as a lock combination.”© AAP 2013
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