Wallaby grateful for stern fitness reminder

Wallabies back-rower Langi Gleeson is grateful that national coach Eddie Jones “tells it how it is”, otherwise he may not have been selected in Australia’s Rugby World Cup squad.

Gleeson’s fitness was questioned in March by Jones, who said that had he been picking his World Cup squad then, the Waratahs forward would not have been chosen.

Having essentially been given an ultimatum by the no-nonsense Jones, Gleeson responded by getting fitter and shining for NSW in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition.

He was rewarded with a spot in Australia’s World Cup squad and came off the bench in the Wallabies’ first match of the tournament, last weekend’s 35-15 win over Georgia in Paris.

“The good thing about Eddie is he tells it how it is – he says what he thinks,” 22-year-old Langi said.

“It’s good. As rugby players you need to be told what you’re not good at and what you’re good at.
“Fitness was a big part, especially in Super Rugby with how fast it is nowadays. It’s something that I’ve worked on, and it’s something Eddie and the coaches have helped me with.

“I just feel like I’m ready to go now. Growing up I always wanted to be a Wallaby, (but) I didn’t think I’d get there really.
“It’s all been a blur, especially this year and last year. I’m just trying to stay grounded and train as hard as I can.”

The World Cup will take on extra significance for Gleeson on Monday morning (AEST) when the Wallabies meet Fiji in Saint-Étienne.

Gleeson is among a host of Wallabies with Fijian heritage, the others being Mark Nawaqanitawase, Marika Koroibete, Suliasi Vunivalu, Samu Kerevi, Rob Valetini and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.

“It’s the second team that I’m going for,” he said.

“My family backs them as well. I don’t know who they’re going to support when we play them this week.”

Fiji will be desperate for a win after a first-up 32-26 Group C loss to Wales.

“It’s just about executing your set piece and stopping their off-loads, which they’re really good at,” Gleeson said.

“They’re really big bodies, so you’ve just got to tackle low.”

Gleeson also called for an 80-minute Wallabies performance rather than only playing well in patches.

“It’s something that we’ve struggled with in the past games. We understand that it’s an issue, but we’re going to resolve it this week,” he said.

“We’re going to start fast and finish fast this week.”

Gleeson hoped for more game time against Fiji but preached a “team first” mentality.

“It’s all about the team first. If that’s what Eddie wants, that’s what Eddie will get,” he said.

“I’m fine if I’m not playing or playing. As long as I give back to the team, that’s what matters.”

Originally published as Wallabies back-rower Langi Gleeson a fan of coach Eddie Jones’s honesty

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