Vickerman: Backchat cost team
Auckland - Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman said he let his team-mates down by backchatting the referee in Australia's opening Rugby World Cup encounter against Italy last weekend and promised not to repeat the error.
The 32-year-old, who returned from three years studying in England to play in his third World Cup, nearly cost the Wallabies a score when he was penalised for not staying on his feet at a breakdown during his team's 32-6 victory.
With the match scoreless, Irish referee Alain Rolland marched the Italians 10 metres into kicking range after the South African-born lock made his displeasure at the decision known.
"That probably from my point of view wasn't good enough," Vickerman told reporters on Tuesday. "A penalty was awarded fair and square and you've just got to deal with that and get on with it.
"I let the team down and it's not good enough, we'll learn from that and move forward. Once the decision is made you get on with the game."
Even though Mirco Bergamasco missed the kick, Vickerman will be aware Australia coach Robbie Deans can be unforgiving of lapses of discipline and now acknowledges that the penalty call was correct.
"It definitely wasn't being badly refereed, the penalties were there, we've had a look at them and I went off my feet and wasn't cleaning out properly," he said.
"Alain's a great referee and he's refereed a lot of top notch international games."
After three years out of the game at the top level, Vickerman said there had been an adjustment to the way the breakdown was now being refereed.
"It's just getting your timing back in the game and making sure you hold your feet because that area of the game is hotly refereed now, going off your feet at the breakdown, and I think those were the areas that let me down," he said.
"I've just got to improve on that. So it's just maintaining the leg drive through the contact and getting on with it. There's a lot of tall blokes out there that do it effectively, I've just got to improve on that."
If he gets the chance to play his 60th test in Australia's second Pool C match against Ireland on Saturday, Vickerman is looking forward to locking horns with former British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell.
"He's been one of the best locks in the world for a number of years now," he added.
"He's right up there, so playing against a bloke of his calibre ... to pit yourself against the best and see where you're at, I think that brings out the best in international players."