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Keeping faith with the underdog in the World Cup final

Michael Cheika has welcome Curtis Rona into the Wallabies starting line-up. (AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU)
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28th October, 2015
11

If we are to believe the pundits, according to the stats it is not that the All Blacks will beat Wallabies – but by how many that is the real issue.

That is as good as saying let’s have the ceremony first and then the match. It is like saying Wallabies fans should not spoil their sleep and rather watch the losing replay later in the day.

The aura of the All Blacks as a team that cannot be beaten in this tournament is so dominant that punters fear to contemplate betting against it. Yet we know from past World Cup matches, anything can happen on the given day – with no team excluded.

When the ARU asked Michael Cheika to coach the Wallabies team in October 2014, he was told, “tell us what you need to get to the World Cup final and win the Cup.” It was a very tall order given the terrible state of affairs of the Wallabies during Ewen McKenzie’s reign.

To add to Cheika’s misery, the Wallabies were in the Pool of Death.

Before we all lose faith in the Wallabies because of the pundits and the punters, here is a reality check.

Firstly, the team which Cheika cobbled together for this World Cup is nowhere near the team which the All Blacks have been thrashing in the last few years. This Wallabies team was has improved on their recent results, beating the All Blacks to win the Rugby Championship this year.

Secondly, the Wallabies team which All Blacks thrashed in Eden Park for the Bledisloe Cup was not the team which beat the All Blacks in Sydney a week earlier.

The winning side in Sydney was much closer to the team which has beaten England, Wales, Argentina and Scotland to ascend to the World Cup final.

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Why didn’t Cheika send in his winning combination to Eden Park for the Bledisloe Cup a week later? Was it mind games? Or just working hard to ensure the best team was on the park?

The Wallabies have never met the All Blacks in the World Cup final.

It is worth losing sleep in the wee hours. It is worth tuning in. This Wallabies side has a great chance of bringing home the Cup.