Is this rugby’s new era or another false dawn?

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    So for the first time in eight test matches the Wallabies got one back against the All Black:s in Brisbane on Saturday night. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t ‘a test match played in heaven’, but by God it was still a bloody good time.

    I’ve previously discussed that I feel Cheika and the Wallabies had been haunted by post-World Cup events.

    Last year England arrived on our shores fresh from being crowned European champions but also having the demons of touring a nation that had comprehensively embarrassed them at their own World Cup. Eddie Jones, a past Australian coach and a man with a plan, dismantled both Micheal Cheika and the Wallabies in a way that left them scarred, unsure and reluctant to play their game plan.

    The difference this time, however, was that it wasn’t the culture but the confidence and mentality of the team that led to the disaster of 2016 and into this year’s awful Super Rugby season.

    Many Australian rugby fans have wondered over the past two years, and what we thought of 2015 as a renaissance for Australian rugby was that it was simply just another in a long line of false dawns.

    Jon Connelly 2006, various stages throughout Dingo Dean’s tumultuous reign, the McKenzie 2013 spring tour revival and of course 2015 and the run to the World Cup final – the persistent theme here is short-term brilliance but long-term mediocrity.

    There are countless reasons for this pattern both on and off the field. No one article could ever truly give justice to covering the whole problem. However, I do think the main problem across all these teams has been a lack of both proper team culture and hard-man management.

    (Image: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

    Many people have legitimate grievances with Micheal Cheika as national coach. He has a tendency to lash out unjustly in press conferences, his demeanour can come off as narcissistic and his selections are definitely his Achilles’s heel.

    But in all of that, he is a leader of men and has the team committed to playing for him. He has, at least to me, achieved full command of his own ship for the first time since Rod Macqueen was the coach. A bit like Jack Sparrow charting a course with his lucky compass, Cheika is hoping to take his team on a voyage of discovery and glory, and he has everyone in on the idea.

    Against the All Blacks on Saturday night and over the past six games now this is exactly what I’m seeing. There is no denying a new hunger and confidence in this team. Five matches unbeaten for the first time since the Rugby World Cup, I highly doubt anyone would have thought that possible going into the spring tour in 2017.

    If anything, this is more testament to Cheika as coach after the laughing stock that was the Super Rugby season. From a group of vastly underperforming players, he has managed to somehow make us look like a competitive and vastly improved international outfit.

    The Barbarians, Japan and Europe await and are very important to truly judge any progress. Matches against England and Scotland will be particularly telling, but I truly think Cheika and his assistants are onto something here and they know it.

    Ultimately only time will tell if this is a new era or another false dawn.

    As for Chuckles, 2016 will always be a blight in his tenure as coach, but somehow I get the feeling he may be remembered more fondly by his critics in years to come.

    The Ashes are here! After all the build-up, follow all the first Test action between Australia and England with our Ashes live scores and blog.