Australia: Ex-Wallaby questions team selection for Italy loss

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell has questioned coach Dave Rennie’s team selection after Australia lost to Italy for the first time ever.

Rennie made 11 changes to his starting XV for the clash that Italy claimed 28-27 in Florence in a thrilling Autumn Nations Series match.

Tough run of form

The loss means the Wallabies have only won two of their last eight games – a worrying run of form so close to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Mitchell believes that so many changes in the starting line-up influenced the Wallabies’ mental approach to the game.

“Subconsciously it gives you the mindset you’re expected to win … that’s poor coaching,” Mitchell said on Stan Sport’s coverage. “[The Wallabies are] seventh in the world. You’re not in a position to make 12 changes.”

Meanwhile, Rennie defended his decision to make so many changes claiming it was important to rotate and manage the players’ workloads.

“I mean it’s not much more changes than we made the week before. There were a couple of extra bodies that we would have played today had they not been injured from the French game. We picked squads a long way out … we looked at how we’re going to give ourselves the best chance to win all five games on tour. We had a good enough side out on the paddock to win,” Rennie said.

“It’s hugely disappointing. It’s not good enough. All I can say is it’s hurting. You go into the change room and the boys are hurt. They know we’re better than that. I understand the frustration [of fans].

“It hurts everyone involved. We had a good enough side on the field but we just gave up too many soft points and possession and territory.”

Impressive Italy

Italy coach Kieran Crowley has done tremendous work with the Azzurri and was bursting with pride after an historic win.

The New Zealand-born coach felt the Wallabies’ team selection was not disrespectful to Italy at all.

“We’re planning to have a party tonight,” said Crowley, “It was outstanding. We asked them to die for Italy and I think they did today.”

“We do not think they disrespected us at all. They’re all Super Rugby players or [playing] in France or wherever it may be. You manage your players and put the team out you think is going to do the job for you.

“If Australia kicked that last goal, you probably wouldn’t be asking that last question.”

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Five takeaways from France v South Africa as Wayne Barnes gets the big decisions right

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