Australia did well to stay within five points of the Kiwis at half-time and the set-piece did stabilise in the second half as Wallabies came within a whisker of clinching what would have been a famous victory – their first against the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001.
“People are saying a couple of lineouts were lost but they lost a couple as well,” Parling said. “The issue there was what came off those three; big moment losses because they ended up going down the end of the pitch from one, eventually scoring, [while] the other one was that overthrown [lineout] in the four-man. But then they lost two in the second half, so I thought they handled the pressure well at half-time.”
Asked whether Fainga’a would be given another shot in the starting XV, Parling said: “Mate, we’ve just got to back all the boys haven’t we? At the moment we’ve got a very strong team and I think we’ve got a very strong squad as well, so we’ll keep looking at things but we’ve got to back the boys in.”
Fainga’a has not played alongside second-rowers Matt Philip and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto before and Parling expects the 2-4-5 combination to flourish in time.
“I’d always expect them to be good from the start or else we’d be doing something wrong,” Parling said. “Naturally, especially on the defensive side of the ball as well, takes a little bit of getting used to.”
Meanwhile, Parling was in no mood to provide an injury update ahead of Australia’s team naming on Friday.
While Jordan Petaia is said to be back at full training this week, and could slot into the match day 23, the injury status of other members in the squad is unclear.
Parling made it clear that he was under no obligation to elaborate on what was going on in the inner sanctum and chuckled at the question.
Without reporters at training and having gone about their business over the past few weeks in a bubble, the Wallabies have kept their cards close to their chest.
“I always laugh at these questions because if someone’s injured, I’m not going to say they’re injured am I?” Parling said. “If someone’s fresh, I’m not going to say they’re fresh. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve got guys all available, everyone is chomping at the bit. I’m not going to give any info that was available anyway. That’s just me being honest.”
The All Blacks have said this week Sam Whitelock is being monitored for concussion symptoms, putting him in doubt to play, while Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga are monitoring niggles.
Parling said prop Allan Alaalatoa’s “six out of 10” review for the Wallabies’ first outing of 2020 was a fair assessment.
“We did a lot of good things but jeez we showed some character and some heart … some unbelievable ticker, especially towards the end of that game,” Parling said. “We know we’ve got to be better. We have to better this week and going forward and if we’re not, we’ll be hurt.”
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Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald