Australia’s World Cup-defining clash with Wales can’t come soon enough for Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, who is still searching for answers about their historic loss to Fiji.
The Wallabies bombed in their pool match in Saint-Etienne, suffering their first tournament loss to the Pacific Islanders, and now must beat Wales to keep their slim quarter-final hopes alive.
They face the unbeaten Welsh in Lyon on Sunday (Monday AEST) where they will seek to reverse the 2019 World Cup pool match result in which Wales were 29-25 victors.
Jones said the team needed to quickly turn their attention to Wales, who edged the Fijians in a thriller before beating Portugal in their second pool match.
“The only thing we are worried about is Wales this week – we’d be happy to play them tomorrow if they wanted to play – we can’t wait for the challenge,” the veteran coach said on Monday.
Jones said coaching staff and players alike would embrace the challenge of a do-or-die clash, with a loss sending the Wallabies packing before the play-offs for the first time in Cup history.
“This is the best coaching week, best playing week, these are the weeks you remember when you are under the pump quite a lot and you’ve got to produce a good performance,” Jones said.
“There are no problems with motivation as this team cares a lot about their performance.”
With a game usually built on attacking flair, Fiji played in an untypical manner, scoring only one try with their points coming through penalties.
They also dominated the breakdown, winning 11 turnovers which Jones said was something his side needed to quickly rectify.
“We are all still searching for answers, none of us have the 100 per cent answer but we have ideas about where the game came unstuck.
“But Wales are a completely different team, they grind away at you whereas Fiji is power.
“This is one of the biggest challenges for this team and personally for the coaching staff.
“We just had a coaching meeting and we know how we want to play against Wales and we are going to work really hard to get the players back on track.”
Jones admitted the young group had been “knocked around” by the result and said they had to shut out outside noise, with many Australian rugby fans outraged by the shock loss which was their sixth in seven Tests under the coach.
“When you have a loss like this it knocks you around a bit, knocks you around emotionally, knocked around team ethic-wise,” he said.
“You start to see shadows in every corner of the room.
“There’s noise from outside which you’ve got to handle and that’s a challenge for the coaching staff this week to make sure they’ve got the right noise.”
He said he would leave it up to the players whether or not they engaged with social media.
“That’s an individual choice for each player, they make their own decision on how they deal with social media.
“That’s not for us to tell them how to do it – everyone makes a choice of how they run their lives and that’s for the players. It’s their choice.”