Wallabies players hurting, says Genia
Wallabies halfback Will Genia says irate fans are feeling only one-tenth of the disappointment the players themselves are enduring after a 10th defeat in 13 games.
The worst year in Wallabies history has brought about vicious criticism from rugby supporters in Australia and worse - many simply giving up and tuning out.
These are dark days for the team, leaving Australian rugby on the financial brink.
After losing 9-6 to Wales at the weekend, having held a 10-year winning streak over them, beleaguered coach Michael Cheika, the players and the Rugby Australia board have been lampooned by the rugby public.
"As much as we play for the jersey, ourselves and what we're trying to represent we also play for the fans because they're a big part of the game," Genia said.
"We do understand their frustration. All I'll say is that all the hurt they're feeling, we feel that too.
"We're never satisfied with a loss. We're the ones out there trying to put in a performance to make them proud.
"As disappointed as they are, we feel that tenfold. We're in a position to try and rectify that and I can promise you we try to do that every day at training and when we play on game day.
"The effort can never be questioned and the passion for the fans as well."
The Wallabies travelled to Padua on Sunday in preparation for this weekend's clash against world No.14 Italy.
The team has just seven Tests left before the start of the World Cup in Japan next September, and still there are major question marks around team selection, strategy and their ability to execute basic skills under pressure.
But Genia is adamant the team has the resilience to bounce back and win the World Cup.
"I'm a true believer, I love this team, I love everything it represents," Genia said.
"I love the fact that we feel like we're growing in that belief as a group. We're working hard on things that are important in terms of consistency, effort and excellence during training. I'll believe until the end, 100 per cent."
Australia has slipped back to their record low of seventh in the world rankings following the Cardiff defeat.
Unlike the top-ranked nations, there is uncertainty over who will be starting at the World Cup in key positions such as hooker, the backrow, and centres.
Cheika hinted at some selection changes against Italy due to poor performance, with the likes of halfback Jake Gordon, midfielder Matt Toomua and rookie Jordan Petaia possibly getting a run.
Although Cheika also said he'd allow some players to use the disappointment of the Wales defeat to fuel them in Padua.
"Every time you get the opportunity to be in the 23, you want to, it doesn't matter who you're playing against because you're playing for Australia,' Genia said.
"It's special every single time. That's just a decision for the boss. Whatever he wants to do, we just roll with it and we work hard in whatever respective role we're given, whether it's starter, bench, non 23 whatever that is."