Talk is cheap and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika knows the only way to placate an increasingly agitated Australian rugby fanbase, after letting them down once again, is through actions on the field.
The Wallabies have arrived at yet another crossroads after Saturday night’s limp 23-19 defeat to Argentina – the first time Los Pumas have prevailed on Australian soil in 35 years.
Once the disbelief subsided, the level of disgust among supporters was palpable at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
The scene itself was scarcely believable.
One man was so angry his verbal tirade at players led to a physical altercation with Lukhan Tui and several other Wallabies.
While there is no excusing the man’s actions – particularly if he pushed Tui’s younger sister as alleged – the reality is events would not have unfolded the way they did had the team held up their end of the bargain.
Cheika said he fully recognised the frustration of supporters.
“I understand how fans get disappointed. I’m disappointed as well,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“I saw he was there in his Wallaby jersey as well, it’s not like he doesn’t want us to win.
“He wants us to win badly. Sometimes that goes pear-shaped.
“There’s a lot of supporters out there, no matter what they’re always behind you. You’ve got to always be mindful of those people.
“It’s the national team and that’s what people do, a lot of supporters last night (felt) the same.
“You can’t be talking about keeping the faith, you’ve got to show it.”
Players and coaches will lick their wounds for the next week before assembling again for a two-week tour that could define Cheika’s tenure as Wallabies coach.
First is a trip to Port Elizabeth in South Africa to face a Springboks outfit coming off a stunning 36-34 win over the All Blacks in Wellington.
After that is a rematch with Argentina in Salta, in high-altitude conditions which the Wallabies have traditionally struggled with.
Cheika was frank about his team’s lack of “enthusiasm” and said he would dissect the vision of their latest catastrophe before deciding if he will swing the selection axe in response.
“(It was) obviously tough last night. (We) should feel bad. It’s the game, you’ve got to pick yourself up and onto the next one,” he said.
“Now we get a run of games away from home and we’re going to have to get more consistent … (bring) better quality play and be more consistent with it and be accountable for that.”