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Wallabies' problem areas are clear as they slip to equal record low 7th ranking

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Wallabies deserve praise for concussion management (2:37)

The Wallabies deserve praise for their management of concussion, but recent suggestions they are about to end their Bledisloe drought were poorly timed. (2:37)

The Wallabies have slumped to an equal-record low on World Rugby's rankings, a 31-point loss to the Pumas on Sunday morning dropping Dave Rennie's team one spot to seventh.

And they must now regroup for the visit of the Springboks in under a fortnight's time, the first of two Tests to be played in the relative rugby outpost of Adelaide before the highly-anticipated second Test is contested in the new Allianz Stadium.

That match will serve as the official international opening of the rebuilt Sydney venue, with the NRLW game between the Roosters and Dragons, and then the crunch NRL clash between the Roosters and Rabbitohs, cutting the stadium's ribbon 24 hours earlier.

But the significance of that historic event will be a blip on the radar to Rennie right now, as he seeks to pick up the pieces from the deflating loss in San Juan that blew a golden opportunity for Australia to take a big step in their pursuit of the Rugby Championship trophy.

While the Wallabies will enjoy a few days off before reassembling on the Gold Coast on Sunday, Rennie and his assistants will be busy addressing Australia's key areas of concern -- among them the composition and cohesion of their back three and, perhaps more pressingly, why they continually crawl out of the blocks.

The nine- and 16-point halftime deficits in Argentina continued a worrying trend for the Wallabies under Rennie, while in Mendoza and the San Juan they conceded the opening try to the Pumas in the sixth and first minutes respectively.

"It took me right back to last week really," Wallabies stand-in skipper James Slipper reflected post match. "Another poor start from us, but we were there last week as well. So we had confidence going into halftime that we could pull it back.

"We had a few things that we wanted to put in place for that second half we just didn't do it."

While Slipper is right that Australia fought back in both Mendoza -- where they went onto win -- and San Juan -- where they had a try overturned that would have made taken them to a 17-16 lead -- it's clear the Wallabies aren't making life easy for themselves by continually falling behind early.

It was the same against England in July, a series Eddie Jones' team won 2-1, when Australia trailed at halftime in two of the three Tests and were tied at 6-6 in the other.

"I'm not sure, that's the question we're getting through at the moment," Wallabies scrum-half Nic White said ahead of the second Test against Argentina.

"I guess it's getting into the grind of things, getting some positive outcomes early in the game; flirting with having a crack but also understanding the game can't necessarily be won right there in the first five, 10, 15, 20 minutes, but it can be lost.

"We want to throw some shots but we've got to make sure we're not reckless and just giving up territory too easy."

What the Wallabies gave up "easy" in San Juan was seven points, when a miscommunication between a backtracking Jordan Petaia and Tom Wright gift-wrapped a try to Juan Imhoff before the clock had even hit 60 seconds.

Wright, Petaia and Marika Koroibete had played alongside one another in the Wallabies back three a week earlier, but their lack of familiarity with one another and general cohesion was perfectly exploited by Argentina's aerial assault in San Juan.

Wright is among the most dangerous counterattacking backs in the game, his speed and footwork making him a dangerous proposition in open space. But he perhaps hasn't experienced the same high-ball assault the Pumas rained down on the weekend, which may bring about a positional switch for the first Test against the Springboks.

Thankfully for the Wallabies, reinforcements will come in the form of Andrew Kellaway, Folau Fainga'a, Hunter Paisami, Dave Porecki, Angus Bell, Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa, who are all expected to be available for selection against the Springboks.

Kellaway's return would be a major boost at fullback, with Rennie having previously admitted the Rebels utility would have slotted into the No. 15 jersey in Brisbane had he too not suffered a series-ending injury against England in the first Test.

There is also the quandary of whom to select at No. 10 in the absence of Quade Cooper: Noah Lolesio had been the man against England, but suddenly James O'Connor was thrown in on the weekend and the Brumbies No. 10 is again likely asking exactly where he stands.

Whatever tweaks Rennie makes, the Wallabies coach finds himself in a similar situation to that of 2021 when he was required to pick Australia up after a devastating 3-0 Bledisloe sweep by the All Blacks.

In the weeks that followed, the Wallabies strung five straight wins together, including two over the world champions, in a run that restored belief that this current group of Australian players had the talent and tactical nous to mix it with the game's best.

After a 2-3 start to 2022, and the loss of Quade Cooper, that faith is once again starting to wain -- so too whether they are actually a better team than their 7th world ranking suggests.