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Connolly pleads for media support

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Wallabies coach John Connolly called for an end to the media bashing of his side and the Welsh touring side, saying that it was damaging the game as well as the atmosphere.

On the eve of a Test between two comparatively weak teams, which has sold out only 40,000 tickets out of a possible 80,000, Connolly reminded the press that the game was the kick-off to the coutdown towards France 2007.

The media has been relentless, criticising both Connolly’s new-look team and decision to appoint co-captains, and infuriating the Welsh camp by nagging for press conferences and then not turning up to them.

The Welsh, despite fielding six British and Irish Lions and boasting more Test caps in their starting XV than Australia, have argued their side, but the Australian media has not backed down.

“We know this Welsh team is okay and the negative stuff just kills the game,” said Connolly to reporters on Friday.

“You don’t see it in any other code, where people come out and continually criticise the game.

“The Welsh have played 450 Test caps. There’s no doubt some of their key players are missing, but, in saying that, you’re never going to have your top 15 on the field all the time.

“We haven’t got Tuqiri out there. We haven’t got Larkham out there now (either), but that doesn’t change the way we contest.

“What this negativity does do is it hurts the game. It stops people coming to it and the lost revenue from that hurts development.

“Instead of saying ‘hey this Welsh side is weak’, people need to recognise that Australia have a good record at home in June, just as northern hemisphere sides have a good record up there in November.

“But the Welsh won’t be easy. They’ve got a lot of experience in their side.”

Pleasing the Australian rugby media is not easy either, despite Connolly’s decent home record, and the coach is getting a little weather-beaten by all the negativity.

“Last year we scored late 30s against England, late 30s against England again, 38 (points) or something against Ireland, 49 against the Springboks,” he said.

“So most (home) games we’ve played we’ve scored 30 or 40 points, so that makes it an entertaining game.

“What hit me was after the Australia-South Africa game last year (in Brisbane).

“We won 49-0. Australia may never do that again and it was probably one of the greatest ever wins and yet the criticism continues.

“It hurts the game considerably, the criticism.”

 

365 Digital

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