All is not lost for Australia

Australia's start to the new Rugby Championship has been far from ideal but all is not lost for the Lions' next opponents. [more]

All is not lost for Australia

Australia’s start to the new Rugby Championship has been far from ideal but all is not lost for the Lions’ next opponents.

Successive defeats to neighbours New Zealand have left a sour taste for the Wallabies just nine months out from the 2013 series with Britain and Ireland’s elite.

Yet while being hammered 22-0 in Auckland just seven days after underperforming on home soil isn’t exactly what the doctor order as far as under-fire boss Robbie Deans is concerned, Australia could still head into the latest Lions adventure with plenty to smile about.

With the southern hemisphere’s top tournament now extended to four teams, there’s more room for Australia’s rivals to slip up, meaning retaining their Tri Nations crown isn’t yet beyond them.

And with the Springboks having already dropped points with a draw in Argentina and Australia’s next two games being played on home soil, there’s every chance they’ll be back in the mix in three weeks’ time.

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Once the Rugby Championship is done and dusted on October 7, there’s then still time for the Wallabies to receive a major boost by beating the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Cup encounter in Brisbane a fortnight later – a scalp that would see them head to Europe for their end-of-year tour on a real high.

So all is not lost as far as Australia are concerned, but Deans will no doubt want an improvement in fortunes against the Boks on September 8.

They could do with a bit of luck in terms of injuries, too. Drew Mitchell is the latest high profile name to be struck down, with his nightmare continuing after he was told he faces around a year out with another nasty ankle injury. The Waratahs wing is now a major doubt for the series with the Lions having ruptured tendons in what was his first Test start in 11 months.

The Wallabies don’t look quite the same side with injured skipper David Pocock, even if Michael Hooper and Liam Gill are hugely promising replacements. Long-term captain James Horwill is another absentee through injury; Quade Cooper spent most of last season on the sidelines; Wyciff Palu, Sekope Kepu, Pat McCabe and Ben McCalman are all currently missing and James O’Connor has been unavailable for the first two rounds of Rugby Championship action.

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