Putting his hand up for his own shocker, Will Genia admits the Wallabies need some serious soul-searching if they’re to challenge the All Blacks in 2017.
Exasperated coach Michael Cheika is expected to wield the axe after the Wallabies slumped to a demoralising 24-19 loss to Scotland in Sydney on Saturday.
Accusing his team of being physically and mentally off the pace, Cheika singled out captain Michael Hooper, fullback Israel Folau and rookie inside centre Karmichael Hunt as among the few to have performed to Test standard.
The rest of the squad is on notice ahead of Saturday’s final Test of the June series, a seemingly easier assignment against Italy in Brisbane.
Cheika said physical intent would be the No.1 selection criteria for Australia’s last Test before back-to-back Bledisloe Cup battles in August with the world No.1 All Blacks, who thumped Samoa 78-0 on Friday.
The Scots destroyed Australia at the breakdown at Allianz Stadium, but Genia accepted responsibility for the defeat after gifting the tourists two first-half tries with a wayward pass that led to an intercept and then a sloppy charged-down kick.
“I was responsible for 14 points … which was quite big in terms of the game,” Genia said.
But the veteran halfback – the squad’s most-capped player – said the entire team needed to take accountability after failing to be switched on from the outset.
He was at a loss to explain why, though, in a worrying sign of possibly a deeper problem in the ranks.
“I guess sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don’t and that’s something that’s more a mindset that you have to address,” Genia said.
“Cheik probably touched on it in the sheds. We could say, yeah, we’ve trained well and prepared well, but you don’t win it in training. You win it on the field.
“Individually, we all have to go back and ask ourselves that question. Why aren’t we starting games well?
“Why aren’t we urgent from the get-go and if we can find answers to that by being honest with ourselves, we’ll come up with a solution.”
The 77-Test stalwart insisted neither uncertainty around which Australian Super Rugby team would be cut as part of SANZAAR’s restructuring saga or the inability of the Brumbies, Waratahs, Reds, Force or Rebels to win a match in 21 games against New Zealand opposition contributed to the Wallabies’ malaise.
“We’re not looking for excuses or any sort of leeway,” said Genia, adding that a big response against the Azzurri was critical ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener on August 19.
“We’ve got to make sure we prepare well but, more than anything, perform come Saturday against Italy so we that can have some sort of confidence and momentum moving into what’s going to be quite a tough Rugby Championship for us,” he said.