Tim Horan has hailed the improved Wallabies’ forward pack for restoring order but warned a different test will truly reveal their progress after back-to-back victories over world champions South Africa.
The former Wallabies centre watched alongside nearly 40,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday evening, marvelling as Australia again overpowered the Springboks in a 30-17 Rugby Championship win.
It backed up their 28-26 victory on the Gold Coast six days earlier and saw Wallabies jump two more spots to No. 3 in the world after starting last week in seventh.
The back-to-back wins are the first for the side since 2019 and under new coach Dave Rennie, coming after a comprehensive trio of losses to New Zealand.
“Two years out from the World Cup, you need to put a stake in the ground,” Horan told AAP.
“Rugby fans aren’t that patient, they want results now, which is why last night was very important.
“Finally, there seems to be depth in every position.
“It’s exciting times and people say ‘don’t get carried away’, well you have to enjoy your wins and appreciate how hard they are.
“We needed that and now, ranked third in the world … third or fourth is probably fair at the moment. We definitely weren’t seventh or eighth.”
Ball-running prop Taniela Tupou was a sensation in just his second start in eight Tests this year.
He helped set up three tries with strong carries and a brilliant no-look pass Horan himself would have been proud of in an incredible 78-minute shift.
Horan said it proved Tupou should no longer be used a bench weapon and was more evidence of the side’s forward pack moving the needle under Rennie’s reign.
“The physicality of our forward pack, that’s been the big improvement of this side.
“It was very good in the first game and we doubled down last night,” he said.
“You’ve got depth and their physicality, skill level and ability to adapt their game. They’ve taken it to a new level.”
The Wallabies flew to Townsville on Sunday ahead of Saturday’s date with Argentina before a Gold Coast rematch a week later to complete the Rugby Championship.
Mario Ledesma’s men will play far more expansively than the Springboks, whose desire to operate without the ball was exploited by Quade Cooper’s clever kicking game on Saturday.
The Pumas drew twice with the Wallabies last season while the Springboks, despite their lofty status, have beaten Australia just once in their last 13 Brisbane Tests.
“If the Wallabies can win both (against the Pumas) it’ll show that Dave Rennie, his staff and the players can adapt to different nations’ styles of play,” Horan said.
“These players can now see results out of what Rennie and his staff are putting in place and to have close to 40,000 there … there’s now a lot of belief from the public too.”