The denigrated Wallabies must defy World Cup history and become the first team to win the tournament after losing their Pool C game, wing Drew Mitchell said on Monday.
The Wallabies are taking a battering from critics in the wake of their stunning 15-6 defeat to Ireland in Auckland at the weekend, which forced them into an early life-or-death situation at the World Cup.
Australia must now do what no team has done before and come back from a pool game loss to lift their third Webb Ellis Cup.
Australia's only other defeat in the group phase was to South Africa 27-18 at Cape Town in 1995, when the Springboks went on to claim an emotional victory under skipper Francois Pienaar.
Mitchell, who is in line for a start in the now increasingly important next Pool C match against the United States in Wellington on Friday, said the challenge was there for the Wallabies to succeed.
Mitchell said coach Robbie Deans made it pretty clear in the team's sombre dressing room on Saturday that the Wallabies had made the coming month much more difficult than it needed to be.
"He's a pretty measured type of guy," Mitchell told reporters.
"There was no sort of blowing up or anything, but he certainly made the boys aware of the opportunity that we had and the opportunity now that stands in front of us.
"And that's hopefully to get second position in our pool and be the first team to win the World Cup from that position.
"That's the way we have to approach it. That's the challenge we've got ahead."
Deans has reminded his team that they got the job done last month, winning the Tri-Nations series with home and away wins over South Africa and New Zealand after opening the tournament with a dispiriting loss to the All Blacks in Auckland.
To lift the Webb Ellis Cup, the Wallabies must string together five consecutive wins - a feat only a handful of players among Australia's current squad have achieved under Deans.
"It's cliched but after that performance on the weekend we just need to really focus on USA," Mitchell said.
"We'd be pretty naive to look any further. If we do face anyone in the quarterfinals or semis, we'll refocus at the time."
Centre Rob Horne, another Wallaby hoping to get a first run in the tournament, said Ireland's stirring victory had given encouragement to the Americans.
"No doubt. I think every team in the competition would have seen that and felt pretty good about themselves," Horne said.
"It's up to us. There's a lot of doubters out there at the moment and only we can rectify that."
Tatafu Polota-Nau, who came in as a late replacement for ailing hooker Stephen Moore last Saturday, said the Wallabies know they can blame no one else but themselves for their predicament.
"Collectively as a team, we knew that we fell short and that's a great sign," he said. "Because I think if anyone individually said they played well then they'd definitely be kidding themselves.
"We just have to make sure that, come the USA, we're ready to rock and roll."
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