Disciplined approach fits James Slipper
November 20, 2013
Greg Growden and Russ Barwick discuss the fallout from Dublin%]
James Slipper is a knockabout 24-year-old Gold Coaster who enjoys a surf, his mates and a beer.
He is also a decent rugby player with 47 Test caps for Australia, a huge number for one yet to hit his peak as a front-rower, and the likeable prop is also among 17 Wallabies who warmed the heart of coach Ewen McKenzie by making the right choice seven nights ago in Dublin.
While McKenzie stood down six players and reprimanded nine more for staying out into the early hours of the morning, he didn't hide the fact that he was well pleased to see more still had their priorities right by returning to their team hotel before midnight. It's hard for any Australian to knock back a chance to hit Dublin's Temple Bar precinct at any time, but Slipper and 16 teammates - including nine 25 years or younger - made the wise decision and stay in and recover from a hard day at training.
"At the end of the day, we're here for one job only and that's to win games on the weekend," Slipper said in Edinburgh. "Personally, I had my dinner and I had trained very hard that day [last Tuesday] and sleep was a No.1 factor in my decision. To win a game against Ireland is something which is hard to do in Dublin, and I thought it was very important to do."
Several of the disciplined players are understood to be upset with McKenzie's heavy-handed approach, but the coach handed down the suspensions to recalibrate the behaviour of his squad in the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2015.
"It's just about fixing our bad decisions that we've been making and obviously the decisions we make should be prioritised towards winning the game on the weekend," Slipper said. "Performance has to come first and Link [McKenzie] has put procedures there that there's no grey area anymore and that's where everyone has to be on their toes and prepare for each game."
Both Slipper and James Horwill, 28, denied there was a drinking culture in the Wallabies, but the prop said that elite footballers should be prepared to sacrifice alcohol during their preparation for a match.
"It's pretty well known that it doesn't really help with your performance," Slipper said. "In any sport it's the sacrifices that separate the good from the very good."