Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is digging in despite another Test loss leaving his side on the brink of some unwanted Rugby Championship history.
Australia’s 23-12 toppling in South Africa on Sunday morning (AEST) brought the tally to eight defeats from the side’s last 10 Tests.
A contest in Salta’s altitude against an in-form Argentina awaits next weekend before the third Bledisloe in Japan and a tough Spring Tour.
They’ll head to South America hoping to avoid their first-ever wooden spoon since the Rugby Championship’s 2012 inception and worst-ever result in a southern hemisphere competition.
With one game to play the Wallabies sit with a single win and four losses and a points difference of minus 63.
Three times – in 1996, 1997 and 2009 – they brought up the Tri Nations tail but they had better points differentials to go with their sole wins in those years.
Australia have sunk to a record-low No.7 during this current trot and there’s less than a year until the World Cup, but Cheika is sure he’s the man to bring out the best in the misfiring squad.
“No-one wants to win more than me, trust me,” Cheika said.
“Tough situations come, then they go away and the tough people will stay. If you want you can cry about it and sook, or get on with getting improvements.
“And I think we made an improvement this week, definitely.”
Australia’s defence was more stoic than on the Gold Coast when Los Pumas ran right through them, however they again lacked the finishing touch in attack and were again sloppy with their line-outs.
Kurtley Beale’s 24th-second intercept pass just metres out from his own line didn’t help, but the Wallabies managed to recover from 14-0 down to trail 14-12 after 30 minutes and have all the running in the second half.
“In a bit of a cauldron atmosphere and considering where we’ve been at the last few weeks and everything that has been happening to us, we held our nerve really well, fought our way back into the game,” Cheika said.
“I think we dominated the physical contest enough but we were still able to manufacture a lot of opportunities.”
Captain Michael Hooper agreed there were more positive signs than after the loss to Argentina two weeks ago.
“I’m gutted we couldn’t get the result, but clear on the things we did well … (and) that there’s a way forward for this team,” he said.
“Our team, coaching staff is doing everything we can to get us on that path and on that course.”