Wallabies 'don't want pity' despite losses

Coach Stephen Larkham Brumbies Captain's Run training session. Photo Jay Cronan
Coach Stephen Larkham Brumbies Captain's Run training session. Photo Jay Cronan

Australian rugby great Stephen Larkham says the Wallabies can make fans proud, but says the players and coaches don't want pity for a slow start to the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies will target a breakthrough win when they play against Argentina in Canberra on Saturday night after back to back losses against New Zealand and a draw against South Africa.

Larkham, a Wallabies assistant coach, said the players were still stinging after a heartbreaking Bledisloe Cup loss and surrendering a 10-point lead against South Africa last week.

Australian rugby has battled through one its darkest years on and off the field, with the game engulfed by a war in the west that led to the Western Force being axed from Super Rugby.

Larkham believes the Wallabies can start the road to redemption, but well-intentioned sympathy doesn't sit well with the team as they try to build a belief "that we can beat anyone".

"This is a team for people to be proud of ... the way we're trying to play is something people can be proud of," Larkham said.

"Australia wants to see us win games, but they also want to be proud of the way we're playing which is what we saw after we lost the second Bledisloe Cup.

"People were genuine about being passionate and happy with the way we played, but some of the well-wishes came across as giving us pity.

"That certainly hurt us. Guys were shattered in the change rooms. Everyone was gutted. For us, it's simple - it's about winning games."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is expected to make minimal changes to his squad for the clash against the Pumas, with only one new face likely to be named in the starting XV on Thursday.

The ARU is hoping there will be swell of support for the Wallabies to avoid empty stands for the first Test in Canberra in seven years.

Ticket sales tripled the daily average earlier this week when the Wallabies hit the ground in the capital and following better performances in the second Bledisloe and against the Springboks.

There were incorrect reports in recent months tickets had sold out which has affected sales, but a small crowd could influence the ARU's decision on bringing international rugby to Canberra in future years.

Larkham, a former ACT Brumbies flyhalf and coach, hopes the Canberra rugby community jumps on board the Wallabies' journey, despite admitting the Super Rugby debacle this year "left a bad taste in mouths".

Billionaire Force backer Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest announced details for a new Indo-Pacific competition on Wednesday and is locked in negotiations with the ARU about Wallabies players being available.

Larkham said the Wallabies had pushed off-field drama aside to focus on getting their Rugby Championship campaign off the ground.

"For us the challenge is not thinking about the outcome, but playing the exciting brand of rugby we want to play," he said.

"We feel like we're building something new and we've got something fresh. I feel like we're learning lessons as we go."

Cheika, captain Michael Hooper and former skipper Stephen Moore met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at The Lodge on Wednesday while the Pumas spent the day at the Argentina Embassy with Governer General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Larkham has been earmarked as a future Wallabies head coach, but says his only priority is igniting Australia's attack.

"Some of our stats weren't where they needed to be last week, so my job right now is fitting into this coaching group," Larkham said.

This story Wallabies 'don't want pity' despite losses first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.