Cordingley eyes turnaround

2008-09-09 09:04

Sydney - For Wallabies halfback Sam Cordingley it is not the colour of the jersey he wears that counts, it's the strength of the performance that he and his teammates put in.

As much as he loves playing for the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Cordingley says his standout moment at the venue is not when he has played for Australia, but for the Reds in their Super 14 win over the Bulls this year.

Asked on Monday, he said it "wasn't in a Test jersey. It was this year with the Reds ... about putting away the Bulls after the [92-3 round-14] loss the year before - that heavy result we took [back] from Pretoria".

Of all the dire Australian results suffered in South Africa at Test and Super 12 or 14 level, that drubbing of the Reds by 2007's eventual Super 14 champions was one of the most scarring for those involved.

To have responded at Suncorp Stadium as the maligned Reds did this year - on March 15 in round five with a 40-8 win - was proof that the side had rediscovered its heart and had started to turn a very large corner.

That is not to diminish the size of the occasion for Cordingley on Saturday night, when he runs onto the Suncorp turf in the No.9 Wallabies green and gold to play the All Blacks.

Important game

The 32-year-old knows what will be at stake in his 21st Test - and first in a starting side against the All Blacks - the chance to win the Tri-Nations title and keep alive hopes of a Bledisloe Cup series win until they clash in Hong Kong in November.

Cordingley, who is due to join French club Grenoble in January, knows that should the Wallabies lose, the opportunity to play such an important game might never come again.

The task at Suncorp now for Cordingley and his teammates - this time the Wallabies - is as big. And again the Australians are coming off a shocker in South Africa - a 53-8 drubbing by the Springboks in Johannesburg. But the result they must avenge is the 39-10 loss to New Zealand in their previous clash at Eden Park, Auckland, on August 2.

Now at the tail end of a Test career which has been stopped and started in recent years due to a Lisfranc foot injury similar to that which ended Wallaby great Tim Horan's career, Cordingley believes Australia can pull off what many suspect is unlikely. But he says what the Wallabies must do is focus on the All Blacks, not dwell on the Springboks.

"We can't be looking back at that Test," he said. "It is another week, another tough opponent, and we have a bit of score to settle after the last [loss to the All Blacks]."

Asked for the secret to beating the All Blacks, as the Wallabies did 34-19 in Sydney on July 26, Cordingley said: "General enthusiasm. At stages in the game at Johannesburg, that was maybe missing a little.

"We have to get on the front foot ... get in behind them ... control the field position ... make our tackles."

Cordingley is confident the defensive deficiencies shown by the Wallabies at Ellis Park will not be repeated on Saturday.

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