Wallabies to embrace high expectations

Date published: May 30 2016

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore says the team has to live up to the expectations in next month’s Test series against England

The last time the Wallabies set up camp on the Sunshine Coast, they were a team in flux.

But now a year on skipper Stephen Moore says they have to be ready to live up to higher expectations as they prepare for a three-Test home series against an improved England side steered by the wily Eddie Jones.

Bookies have installed Australia as clear favourites to seal a series win, and fans will be demanding they deliver after dispatching the old enemy with a 33-13 statement win at last year’s World Cup – the tournament where the much-vaunted ‘identity’ of the Cheika-era Wallabies was crystalised, but first formed on the Sunshine Coast.

Moore said the onus is on the team to take things to the next level as they settle in on their second visit to the tourist strip

“I think we need to be comfortable with that and be ready to shoulder that expectation and improve our game again,” he said.

“Over the last year, we tried to engage our supporters and fans and make them proud of what we’re trying to do. “This year it’s about building on that and finding way to continue to improve because what we did last year isn’t going to be good enough.”

The Wallabies trained for the first time on Monday, although the full squad is yet to assemble in Caloundra and Karmichael Hunt (groin) wasn’t involved in the session.

Hunt will be eased into the build-up to the first Test at Suncorp Stadium on June 11, but the chances of Mike Harris taking part in the opener appear shot after scans on his injured hamstring were returned.

The Rebels utility back will recover in Melbourne, making the second Test at AAMI Park on June 18 the more likely setting for Harris to add to his 10 international caps, with Reece Hodge called in as his replacement.

Meanwhile, Sekope Kepu and Taqele Naiyaravoro are still making their way back in Europe, while Christian Lealiifano is in Canberra with his wife, who is overdue to give birth.

The absences add intrigue to the battle for the centres, where the in-form Israel Folau is firming as a likely starter at No.13, but his partner could be one of up to half a dozen others.