By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Wallabies prop James Slipper has called on players to lead Australian rugby out of the doldrums with better performances, starting with the domestic "Super Rugby AU" tournament next week.
The local game has been under pressure for years with financial constraints and the declining competitiveness of the now seventh-ranked Wallabies, but the novel coronavirus shutdown has only exacerbated the problems.
The long-term outlook remains uncertain, with no broadcast deal in place for Australian rugby after 2020 and no clarity around the international schedule.
Yet more than three months after Super Rugby was suspended in March due to COVID-19, players and fans will welcome the return of the professional game when "Super Rugby AU" starts from July 3.
Slipper said players could still help turn things around by showing a winning mentality on the field.
"We haven't really had results with the Wallabies for a few years now and our Super teams have struggled to be fair," the ACT Brumbies man told reporters on Wednesday.
"At the end of the day we need to start making some changes with the way we try to go about our business, try to have a winning mindset.
"That's what's so exciting about this competition. There's going to be a real spotlight on Australian rugby because we're playing derbies every weekend."
Slipper said the players' hopes of impressing incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie should ensure some "fiery" matches.
"The biggest thing that we had from Dave when he was down here was that he's going to pick players on form," said the 31-year-old. "As a player that's what you want to hear."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ken Ferris)