A new golden age of Australian rugby is upon us
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WIll Israel Folau continue to develop as a star of Australia rugby in 2014? AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN
The signs are pointing to a return to dominance for Australian rugby, as our Super Rugby teams are once again among the best attackers in the southern hemisphere.
In terms of tries scored and clean breaks, the Australian teams are now dominating the top six.
“SBW is the kind of guy who keeps the kids out of the movies,” a South African commentator once remarked.
The ARU must be Hollywood’s next enemy, with the tournament’s top three try-scorers including the world’s best player, Israel Folau, and the indelible Jesse Mogg.
The rise of the Australian contingent is even more interesting given the shrinking presence of the New Zealand and South African franchices.
The Chiefs are standing alone in NZ while the Crusaders, Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes have been folding around them like deck chairs. It’s suddenly lonely at the top.
The South Africans are in greater strife, with the Cheetahs and Bulls serving up rubbish.
The Stormers have always had a curious gag reflex with the sight of a try-line, but in previous years they largely got away with it due to their strong defence. This year their defence has been average, and they find themselves at the bottom of the table.
Perhaps their coaching staff could trial hypnosis at training; anything to expel the anxiety associated with scoring tries. A white line is not something to be feared.
Presumably the Stormers won’t figure out how to score tries this year so 2014 will be lost to them again, while the Lions are unlikely to shoot the lights out, leaving the Sharks to carry the torch for the South Africans.
So all eyes are now on the Aussies. Even the Rebels and Force have learnt how to crank up the temp, and on their day will beat anyone in the competition.
Forget being contenders – one of three Australian teams is likely to win the competition this year, as all they have to do is beat the Chiefs.
And this depth bodes well for the Wallabies. Look out for a tight one in the Bledisloe Cup.