James Slipper has ruled out the possibility of entering Saturday’s first Test against England with clouded emotions as he revisits the setting for his harrowing Australia debut.
Twelve years ago Slipper stepped off the bench in Perth on a brutal day for the Wallabies scrum against their English counterparts, yet even though two penalty tries were conceded at the set piece the hosts still prevailed 27-17.
Fast forward 113 caps and the 33-year-old prop is more important to Australia than ever due to an injury crisis at tighthead that may force him to move from his preferred position of loosehead.
The scars from that first Test outing in 2012 have since healed and Skipper is determined to let his performance do the talking.
“It’s not about proving them wrong, it’s about the way we want to play the game. We talk internally about what’s important for us. At no stage do I make it personal,” Slipper said.
“That debut was in 2010 – it was a long time ago and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. It wasn’t a great night for me so it’s one to park. But it’s irrelevant what other people say, it’s what happens out on the field that counts.
“Rugby is funny, it tends to go in trends a bit. The game back then looked so different. The game that we see now is more of a big power game, big kicking game and big set-piece game.
“There’s definitely been a lot of change in the game. It’s been one hell of a ride and I’m really looking forward to the series.”
Targeting the Wallabies’ scrum has been a successful tactic for England but Slipper insists Australia are ready to meet them head on.
“The set piece is so important in Test match rugby. It’s very hard to win a game for your country without a functioning set piece, so we’ve been doing a lot of work on that,” he said.
“England back themselves in that area and they have historically been very strong at it so we’re going to have to be on our game to not only compete with them but to try to get one over them. That’s our goal.
“But it’s one thing saying it, it’s another thing doing it, so we’ll have to make sure we roll up our sleeves and whoever gets the jersey has to go out there and do a job.”
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