Wallabies prop James Slipper on Drew Mitchell criticism

LYON: Wallabies stalwart James Slipper says he understands the fierce criticism being directed at his team, including from his former teammate Drew Mitchell.

A fired up Mitchell took aim at Eddie Jones on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast, claiming there was a lack of accountability in the Wallabies coach’s decisions and press conference explanation following the historic Rugby World Cup loss to Fiji.

Mitchell, Australia’s leading World Cup try scorer who made his Test debut under Jones in 2005, told Wide World of Sports that he should have articulated himself better after unleashing some ‘F bombs’ on the podcast he co-hosts with Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

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“I know Drew really well,” Slipper told reporters in Lyon on Friday, after being named at tighthead prop to play Wales on Monday (AEST).

“The one thing about Drew is he cares a lot about the Wallaby jersey. He is genuinely he’s very passionate about about the team and he just wants to see us do well and that’s probably a bit of frustration coming out in Drew. As a player who’s still playing I get that.

“He’s not going to be the last player that comes out and says his bit. I’ve seen it my whole career, going back a long time.

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“So it’s a part of the game. The players are invested, the ex-players are invested, the fans are invested and I get it. So it’s definitely not going to be the last player that voices his opinion. Whether they support us or not, it’s a part of the game that we are used to.”

The beloved prop has joined George Gregan and Adam Ashley-Cooper as the only Australians to play in four World Cups.

His vast experience sticks out like a sore thumb in a green Wallabies 23 with his 132 Tests more than double that of the next most capped Nic White (65).

Slipper was asked what tips he was giving his younger teammates regarding external pressure and online trolls.

“My advice would be not to read it and then to stay off social media, but realistically that’s not going to happen,” Slipper said.

“As you said, it’s everywhere – everywhere you look there’s an article or an podcast – there seems to be a new podcast every second week going out there. So it’s hard for young players, where they get sent that social media directly to them, they get tagged in it, their friends send it to them, their family are reading it, so it’s very hard to escape.

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“It’s important as a young player (to remember) that you’re never as bad as what they say you are and you’re never as good as what they say you are, and that’s probably the one piece of advice I would give.

“Just worry about the stuff you can control, and what you control is what you do on the field, not really what people write about you.”

WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Rob Leota, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki (c), Angus Bell

Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu

WALES (15-1): Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Jac Morgan (c), Aaron Wainwright, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas

Reserves: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer

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