The 29-17 win was the first for NSW since May last year.
Little can be read into Australia’s demolition of Japan in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup but a lot can be read into the enthusiasm of new Wallaby Berrick Barnes.
Standing, as the Wallabies do, at the end of an era with the retirement of several important players on the horizon, the boundless energy of young Barnes is exactly what the team need in the coming weeks.
Selecting a team is as much about aligning the right talents as it is about aligning the right personalities. The famous ‘no dickheads’ policy of the Sydney Swans struck a chord with many coaches who have since emphasised the importance of team focus.
Whilst the likes of Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale and Sam Norton-Knight all can play exceptionally well they have all matched their highs with equal measures of lows. Cooper and Beale’s disappearance in the later stages of the Super 14 and Norton-Knight’s case of stage fright at international level gives the appearance of hot and cold players who can be as much of a liability as a positive influence.
The short sprint that is the World Cup is not a place for changing moods. You either dominate right through, as New Zealand will be planning to do, or slowly build as Australia did in 1999 and 2003. Berrick Barnes’ bubbling optimism, even if only from the sidelines, is the right ingredient for a repeat performance by the Aussies.
By Garth Hamilton