Sydney - The misfiring Wallabies are not fit enough, Rugby World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer said on Tuesday, blaming the players and not the coaching set-up for their dismal run of defeats.
Australia have now lost six of their past seven games, and ceded the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand for the 16th consecutive year after a 40-12 hammering in Auckland at the weekend and a 38-13 thrashing in Sydney the week before.
The poor form has put pressure on under-siege Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. But Dwyer, who led Australia to their first rugby World Cup title in 1991, said the players must take responsibility.
"I'm sure they're not fit enough," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"In Sydney there were people walking with half an hour to go. You can't really pin that on the Wallaby coaching set-up."
Cheika has been adamant that the Wallabies' fitness levels had improved.
"I thought the comments before the Test misled us all a bit," said Dwyer.
"We were getting comments out of the Wallaby camp that fitness had definitely improved and skill level had improved. Well, that didn't appear to be the case."
While there have been questions about Cheika's position as coach, he has angrily brushed aside the concerns and insisted he is focused on the team.
Dwyer, a former flanker who was a mentor to current England coach Eddie Jones when he moved into coaching, said Cheika was still the right man for the job.
"My opinion is he is the coach and that's that," said Dwyer.
"It wasn't too long ago when he was being hailed as a saviour. He can't have gone backwards I wouldn't have thought," he said, adding that it was "misplaced" to call for Cheika to be sacked.
Australia's next game is against South Africa in Brisbane on September 8.