Australia fly-half Carter Gordon (centre) had a torrid game and was uable to get his team's attack ticking while finding himself on the receiving end of some bruising Fijian tackles

Saint-√Čtienne (France) (AFP) - Australia coach Eddie Jones backed his young fly-half Carter Gordon to come good despite hauling him off following a poor showing in Sunday’s historic World Cup defeat to Fiji.

Gordon was unable to get his side ticking from the play-making role during the 22-15 Pool C defeat in Saint Etienne that leaves the Wallabies’ knockout stage hopes in the balance.

Gordon was at fault for Josua Tuisova’s try early in the second half that allowed Fiji to stretch their lead as he misjudged his jump to catch a high ball, allowing the burly centre to scoop up the loose ball and scamper away to score.

“Carter’s a young 10, he’s going to have those days,” Jones told reporters.

“I’ve said this before, he’s always going to have those days but he’ll bounce back, he’s a good young player.”

Jones caused a stir before the tournament by selecting Gordon as his only specialist fly-half, leaving the experienced pair of Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley out of his 33-man tournament squad.

Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams, working for television, said Gordon could have used the support of a more experienced teammate after a performance like that.

“We’ve gone with a young team, I’ve got no regrets at all,” said Jones.

“We’re building a team for the future and we’re going to go through some pain and some of the young players are going to go through some pain and that’s how you have an apprenticeship. He’s got plenty of support.”

- ‘Pleased with character’ -

Jones was fairly upbeat despite the potentially damaging defeat that leaves the Wallabies needing to beat Wales next week or risk crashing out before the knock-out stages for the first time ever at a World Cup.

“We’ve got Wales next week and the great thing about the World Cup tournament is it’s not the end of the road,” said the 63-year-old former England coach.

“I’ve got no doubt that we’ll get a response. I was really pleased with the character our young team showed.

“When Fiji’s on the front foot in a fairly hostile environment it would have been easy for our team to go away but they didn’t.

“And I think if you look at the records, the stats show that’s the youngest finishing group for Australia since 1995.”

Even so, Jones admitted he was frustrated at his side’s inability to get on the front foot.

“We just couldn’t get one part of our game really going. If we could have got our maul going that could have changed the game but we couldn’t get that going,” he said.

“We didn’t get any ascendancy at the scrum and we were beaten at the breakdown.”

But Jones still feels Australia can go deep in the tournament.

“I’ve made the decision to go for a young team so if that’s the wrong decision I’ll be held accountable for that,” he said.

“We’ve had a bit of a setback today but that’s all part of being at a World Cup, I do remember South Africa lost a game and won the World Cup (2019).”

And Jones refused to use the absence of injured forwards Taniela Tupou and captain Will Skelton, who was ruled out of the match just an hour before kick-off after failing to overcome a calf injury, as an excuse for defeat.

“We can’t blame the loss on Tupou and Skelton’s not being there, we’ve got to be good enough to cope with that,” he said.

Jones also confirmed both will miss the Wales match.