Kurtley Beale believes Australia are on the way to becoming a ‘really great’ team and insists it is only a matter of time before they turn the tables on all-conquering New Zealand.
The Wallabies produced a vastly improved performance in Saturday's 20-10 loss to the All Blacks in Christchurch, but it was not enough to prevent a record-equalling ninth consecutive loss to the in-form Kiwis.
The Australians get the chance to restore order against the All Blacks in Sydney on 11 September, but first they face the daunting prospect of consecutive games against South Africa in Pretoria and Bloemfontein on 18 August and 4 September.
‘The boys feel a little frustrated because we feel as though it's only a matter of time and a small step away before we can really complete and turn opportunities into points on the field,’ said Beale.
‘I don't know what it is (that's holding us back) but it's definitely going to come.
‘We're only one win away to becoming really great so hopefully in the next couple of weeks against South Africa we can do that and hopefully continue it.’
Beale is adamant the Wallabies remain a united camp and defended under fire play-maker Matt Giteau, who faces an uphill battle to retain his spot in South Africa after Anthony Faingaa impressed in his run-on debut in Christchurch.
‘He's a world class player and he can handle (the criticism),’ Beale said.
‘Everyone's on the same page, everyone's disappointed and everyone's in the hot seat so to speak. We've just got to stick together as a team now and they're a good bunch of guys and we'll get through this little period.
‘We won't get overwhelmed and Robbie (coach Robbie Deans) has done a fantastic job of keeping us close together.
‘We'll stay together, we'll work hard together and over these next couple of weeks we'll be ready to show everyone what we're really about.
‘If we can't be number one in the world at the moment, we're trying to aim to be number two,
and it all starts with our two-week tour in Africa and we'll try really hard to get over them.’
Beale plans to make the number 15 jersey his own after an impressive showing on Saturday.
The 21-year-old former fly-half made the most of his elevation to the run-on side after a season-ending injury to Rob Horne forced first choice full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper to outside centre.
‘I'm just very happy to have the opportunity and I'm very grateful that Robbie and the selectors have shown faith in me and believed in me and I'm really appreciative of it,’ he said.
Beale, who scored his side's only try of the match, added: ‘It was probably one of the best challenges on the weekend playing against the All Blacks.
‘Dan Carter was punching corners, he's obviously a very smart kicker and I was pretty stoked to be able to receive and gather his balls and be there at the right time and be in position well.
"The nerves were kicking in at the start of the game obviously playing against the All Blacks but once I settled in and got a few touches of the ball I was pretty relaxed and composed.
‘I like to think that it was a good start for myself but there's a lot to work on so definitely I would like to make the fullback position my own.’