Challenge of front-row switch to test Wallabies prop James Slipper at Twickenham
Veteran prop James Slipper admits he’s feeling the pressure of succeeding in a different front-row role in the Wallabies’ bid to snap a depressing run of seven straight losses to England.
Team man Slipper had no qualms about moving from loosehead prop to tighthead prop for Sunday morning’s Test at Twickenham to cover for the concussion-caused losses of Allan Alaaalatoa and Taniela Tupou.
But while he’s no stranger to wearing the No.3 tight-head jersey, the Brumbies front-rower realises the enormity of the task against a uncompromising England forward pack.
“I saw the writing on the wall early in the week,” Slipper said.
“Losing both Allan and ‘Nella’, our tight-head priorities, meant someone would have to fill in. I wasn’t surprised, but a bit of pressure’s come on.
“We’ve been training pretty hard, so I’ve been trying to get comfy there as much as I can because I know there’s going to be a big challenge there.
“It’s pretty much back to front for me as a loose-head by trade. I’ve got history at tight-head so it’s not too unfamiliar, but at the same time I just needed some time in the seat this week to have a freshen up.
“I’ll do my very best for the for the team and for the country.
“There’s nothing better than playing at Twickenham in front of a packed house of English fans.”
The last time Slipper started at tight-head for the Wallabies was in 2012.
“(Loose-head) is probably where I fit best,” he said.
“With my strengths and how I like to scrum, it’s probably where I saw myself at the time.”
Slipper said the Wallabies’ scrum needed to be “clinical” if the Australians were to have a chance of upsetting the Eddie-Jones coach England.
“We’ve had quite a few changes throughout the team and throughout the forward pack in particular. We’ve had to draw upon a few new players to join in there,” he said.
“We just want to be clinical, we want to look after our (ball), we want to make sure that we give our team the best possible ball they can have to play off.
“We just want to do a job there. We know what’s coming. It’s pretty formidable English pack and we’re going to have to roll the sleeves up and meet it.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie urged his side to “embrace” the challenge of beating England at a packed Twickenham.
“It’s a massive game and a great opportunity for us, playing a great England side at Twickenham,” Rennie said.
“You’ve got to get excited and embrace that sort of situation.
“We’re going to throw everything at them.”
Originally published as Challenge of front-row switch to test Wallabies prop James Slipper at Twickenham
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