Let’s bring back pride and passion, Wallabies
116 Have your say
The New Zealand All Black's Cory Jane (l) competes for the ball with Will Genia of Australian Wallabies during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
I bumped into Mark Ella at North Sydney during the week, still the most intuitive and instinctive footballer I’ve ever seen in any code over 60 years.
And a flood of vivid memories surfaced with mercurial Mark the pivot, setting alight a backline during his all too short 25-cap career that included Bledisloe success, and the Wallabies only Grand Slam in 1984, with “Markella”, as the Fijians call him, scoring in all four internationals.
Those were the days.
That was an Ella-inspired era that included Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese, Michael Hawker, Brendan Moon, Roger Gould, Andy Slack, Simon Poidevin, and Topo Rodriguez, to name a few.
They were amateurs, yet thoroughbreds, not like watching this current crop of highly-paid professional Clydesdales.
The tragedy of the tough, but true, comparison is that it isn’t the case.
There is talent, and lots of it, in this Wallaby side that in the main lies dormant. No-one in this era will ever be a Mark Ella, not even close.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t match Ella’s pride and passion, nor the pride and passion of those named above, and many more.
It was a given in those days.
Tomorrow night at hoodoo Eden Park will be the last meaningful chance this season for the Wallabies to come out of hibernation and prove they can cut the mustard.
Kurtley Beale and Anthony Fainga’a have been made the only scapegoats for last week’s dismal performance against the All Blacks in Sydney.
The fullback and inside centre have been dropped when outside centre Rob Horne and no 8 Scott Higginbotham also deserved the chop.
Both of them did nothing last week, so why were they saved?
Injury saved prop Sekope Kepu and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau from being axed as well, and they have been replaced by Ben Alexander and Stephen Moore, respectively.
No argument there.
In fact, there’s a strong argument both Alexander and Moore should have been in the starting line-up last week.
As should have Quade Cooper who returns tomorrow night in the 10 jersey to provide the unpredictability to set the Wallaby backline alight and cast doubts in the minds of the All Black defence.
But Cooper slapped his supporters in the face with his bored sounding: “Um, well, all I want to say is I’m back, I’m fit, healthy, I’m ready to go, and I’ll see everybody at Eden Park” on television last night.
Just seven seconds worth of drivel. Hardly inspiring.
Cooper’s faithful supporters deserved better than that, so did his Wallaby team mates.
And they will demand far more against the men-in-black.
Will Genia has been charged with leading the Wallabies tomorrow night with skipper David Pocock recovering from knee surgery.
A huge ask, but what you’d expect when you are playing against the world champions on a ground where they haven’t been beaten by any nation for 18 years.
Despite those undeniable odds, any repeat of last Saturday’s pathetic capitulation will be totally unacceptable.
Nothing short of bloodied but not bowed after 80 minutes, with every Wallaby tank empty.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.