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Connolly: ‘Win was just a start’



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Australian coach John Connolly warned of greater challenges to come after his side thrashed Fiji in their one-off international at the Subiaco Oval in Perth on Saturday.

The Wallabies were much too strong for the South Pacific islanders, winning 49-0, just a week after they beat Wales 31-0.

But Connolly was not getting carried away, especially with South Africa and New Zealand due up in the Tri-Nations in the coming weeks.

“The players know the mindset just has to be so strong and we just have to be so tough,” Connolly said.

“It’s a mental preparation as much as anything and a discipline issue in terms of doing everything right. We were quite loose today [Saturday] in pushing the odd pass and trying things that weren’t quite on.

“Next week it’s as much about the six inches between the ears as to how tough mentally you are. We will make numerous changes for next week but I was happy with the progress these guys have made.”

Connolly said he was pleased with the Wallabies’ first-half performance against Fiji. Australia ran in five first-half tries, but Connolly was less impressed with several concentration lapses in the second half.

“In the second half, they [Fiji] were pretty strong at the breakdown. They were very strong for the ball. We kept banging away and the second half was a little bit more disappointing,” he added.

“But there were more pluses than minuses that came out of the game. Drew Mitchell keeps on improving, Lote [Tuqiri] is back, Adam Ashley-Cooper had a full game, so did Scott Staniforth and I think that’s good for us.”

Tuqiri was a shining light for Australia in his first match since November, crossing for two tries in a man-of-the-match performance.

The 27-year-old winger missed the Wallabies’ two wins over Wales as he worked on a specialised training program aimed at improving his sprinting abilities.

“It’s just good to get my hands back on the footy,” Tuqiri said.

“I got a double so I’m pretty happy with that. It’s a good start to my international season and I’ll put my hand up for selection next week hopefully.

“I thought their winger defended pretty well on me tonight. I didn’t really get much space and he was a good defender. I’m gaining confidence and hopefully I get a bit more room next week if I get picked.”
365 Digital

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