MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s Super Rugby teams have failed to produce players fit enough for test rugby, leaving the Wallabies scrambling to prepare for bigger tests to come against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship, according to captain Stephen Moore.
Australia laboured in a 40-27 win over Italy in Brisbane on Saturday, fading badly in the second half before grabbing two late tries to stave off an embarrassing defeat.
None of Australia’s five Super Rugby teams have beaten New Zealand opponents this season and Moore said players were heading into the international season underdone.
“It shouldn’t be hard for Super Rugby to produce players that are ready for test match footy,” Moore told local media.
”I don’t know what the issue is there, but we need to make sure the next two months or whatever it is ... we can’t waste a day.
“There is a gap between Super Rugby and test rugby, the intensity’s up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t train like we have to play test footy.”
Australia host the world champion All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on Aug. 19.
After easing past Fiji in the first of the three June internationals in Melbourne, Australia suffered a surprise 24-19 loss to Scotland in Sydney last week before their huge scare against Italy at Lang Park.
While claiming ultimate responsibility for his players’ fitness, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he had needed to flog his charges on the training track and would have “discussions” with his counterparts in Super Rugby.
“If we didn’t do it over these three weeks and start that, it’ll be too late for later on,” he said.
”Maybe that’s taken some of the edge off some of our performances because we’ve been going hard at it.
”We’ve got to work extra hard and we’ve got to be prepared to work even harder once we come out of Super Rugby for that little block to be ready, because at least the fitness base can let us be in the hunt.
“Then, from there, it’ll be how good as footballers we are.”
The Wallabies players return to Super Rugby next month for the final two rounds of the regular season.
Most will have plenty of time to work on their fitness, with four of Australia’s teams already confirmed to miss the playoffs.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty