Steve Hansen reckons the Wallabies are Bledisloe Cup favourites

By Daniel Gilhooly, Daniel Gilhooly is a Roar Guru

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    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made the eye-catching claim that the Wallabies deserve favouritism for the Bledisloe Cup.

    Hansen ignored 16 years of New Zealand dominance by declaring Michael Cheika’s team more than capable of reclaiming the trans-Tasman silverware in twin Tests this month.

    His evidence is last year’s dead rubber third Test in Brisbane which Australia won 23-18 for just their second victory in the last 19 Bledisloe Cup Tests.

    “We lost to Australia the last time we played them, so no doubt they’ll have a lot of self confidence and are worthy of starting as favourites,” said Hansen after naming a powerful All Blacks squad.

    The theory, ahead of the opening Test in Sydney next week, defies Super Rugby form.

    The Crusaders were dominant champions while four Kiwi teams finished with the best regular season records in the competition.

    Australia’s only representatives in the play-offs were the Waratahs.

    Hansen has boosted his 33-man squad from the one that swept France 3-0 by adding three accomplished forwards – fit-again captain Kieran Read, lock Brodie Retallick and hooker Dane Coles.

    The 109-Test No.8 Read and Coles haven’t played a Test since last November while Retallick’s absence dates back nearly a year.

    While Read took part in the final weeks of the Crusaders’ charge to a ninth title, Coles hasn’t played at any level since rupturing knee ligaments.

    He is still recuperating and will miss both opening Tests against Australia, along with inside centre Sonny Bill Williams (shoulder).

    Three Hurricanes players have been dropped from the French series – midfield back Ngani Laumape, lock/flanker Vaea Fifita and prop Jeff Toomaga Allen.

    Laumape and hooker Liam Coltman train with the squad as injury cover for Williams and Coles.

    Prop Tim Perry, who missed the French series with injury, and third-ranked halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi are the only uncapped players.

    “The selectors found this an incredibly difficult squad to select,” Hansen said.

    “It has to be noted that there are some very good players who have not made the squad.

    “One of the positives of having such a talented pool to select from is that it creates natural competition, That competition should remove any feelings of complacency within our playing group.”

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • August 6th 2018 @ 2:44pm
      Old Bugger said | August 6th 2018 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

      An acknowledgement toward favouritism of the WBs side going into this RC competition is testimony to Hansen’s thoughts based upon the last game they played but also, recognition of the prior test also.

      Last year, the SR teams from AU-land struggled against NZ SR sides and yet in T2, the WBs played like a team possessed in the first 20mins. That was one that got away IMO when it should’ve been one, they snatched off the ABs. The proof of improvement was in T3, in Brisbane.

      So Hansen, has every right to suggest the WBs having favouritism going into this series because SR form, bears no impact to sides in the RC and last year, the WBs proved that. Reverse psychology perhaps but, Hansen didn’t waste any time to offer favouritism so closely after he announced, his own squad.

      • Roar Guru

        August 6th 2018 @ 2:53pm
        PeterK said | August 6th 2018 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

        just a ploy to remove complacency from his team, to get them fired up.

        No way does he think Wallabies are really favoured to win.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 3:59pm
          ethan said | August 6th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          Exactly. He almost couldn’t hide his smile when he said “I believe they’ve closed the gap.”

        • August 6th 2018 @ 6:41pm
          Colvin Brown said | August 6th 2018 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

          Even though we’ve won most games over the past 15 or so years the WBs have won enough for us to not to sleep well in the week before each WB/AB test, Who remembers the 2003 RWC semi. I still lie in bed at night thinking about that pass from Spencer to Mortlock.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 2:54pm
        SP said | August 6th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

        Yep, they could have and should have won that 2nd test last year. But favourites for this year? He’s having a laugh.

        • Roar Guru

          August 6th 2018 @ 3:21pm
          jeznez said | August 6th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

          Yeah, he’s always been a stirrer and this is him messing about. I’m not as dark on the Wallabies as some in Oz but I think we are a long way from being favourites.

        • August 6th 2018 @ 4:34pm
          Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          This is sooooo funny……if a Kiwi says Aus are favourites you guys rubbish him…if he says Aus have no chance…You rubbish him…..It seams that no matter what he says you disagree with him…….As for the 2nd test last year….well you were gifted 3 trys and still blew it but you say you were unlucky but want to retain the underdog tag….

          • August 6th 2018 @ 4:48pm
            Chippy McChip Chip said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

            Persecution Complex [noun]
            An irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 6th 2018 @ 4:57pm
              piru said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

              Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder,[5] is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states.

              Is this 397 profiles or 398?

          • Roar Guru

            August 6th 2018 @ 5:23pm
            jeznez said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

            C’mon Jacko, what happened to the bloke that went on the warpath when NB suggested the Wallabies had closed the gap a bit on the AB’s (note, not caught up to, not surpassed, just closed the gap a bit)?

            You started complaining that people were saying that folks were claiming the WB’s were going to win, not that anyone had stated that. Now you’ve got Shag saying the Wallabies are favourites? Seems no matter what he says you’ll agree with him!!!

            • Roar Guru

              August 6th 2018 @ 5:31pm
              PeterK said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              absolute gold

            • August 6th 2018 @ 6:26pm
              Jacko said | August 6th 2018 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

              Jeznez You know NB suggested far different to what you are trying to say…..NB is alway anti ABs so dont put too much in anything he says…….But thats great go read it again will you and read many other comments here by me and there is a very clear statement by me saying that Aus are on the up…their Sr teams are improving and the Wallabies are improving too…to say different makes no sense whatsoever…..and I have not said different so if someone did accuse me of that makes the accuser a liar
              Hey peterK…..you dont even know your national teams colours…its absolute green and gold…not absolute gold at all…how embarrassing for you…

              • Roar Guru

                August 6th 2018 @ 6:30pm
                jeznez said | August 6th 2018 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

                😀

                Jacko, I know you and Nick eventually agreed that Oz are on the up but haven’t caught up yet. These are my thoughts as well.

                100% Nick never said the Aussies would now have the wood on the AB’s, although I’ll give you that he gave his article a cheeky headline to help garner more attention. Not quite as cheeky as Hansen’s comment here though!

              • August 6th 2018 @ 7:05pm
                Old Bugger said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

                I think another approach Jez is to see if there will be any interviews with WB players that suggest a win to the WBs, is a mere formality.

                If Hansen’s remarks seem to encourage such WB player responses then I would assume, Shag has gotten two birds with the one stone…..a) given his team a kick-up the rear by applauding his opponent and b) provide a platform for the opposition to feel successful, before kick-off.

                If anything, it is simply Shag getting first digs at Cheiks……nothing more, nothing less provided the players on both sides, stay out of the banter. It makes for an excellent lead into Aug 18 and kick-off.

              • August 6th 2018 @ 10:30pm
                ForwardsWinMatches said | August 6th 2018 @ 10:30pm | ! Report

                Is it really “first digs”? It’s a comment by Hansen that borders on insulting the intelligence of keen rugby fans. At best it’s laughable but the reality is no-one takes it seriously and no-one believes Hansen believes it. Cheika will no doubt be asked to comment – hopefully he just ignores it.

              • Roar Guru

                August 6th 2018 @ 11:02pm
                jeznez said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

                OB, I’m sure Shag would love it if the WB’s bite – I sincerely hope none of them are that silly. Am sure the soundbite has been played to the WB’s and a response asked for.

                They should say they are flattered that he has said that but that of course NZ are the favourites, that not having lifted the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 is all the motivation they need and that they are going to try their very best.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 11:30am
                Phil said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                Jacko,it’s hard to say this,but I actually enjoy your comments and they do even make sense at times,but to say NB is anti AB’s is ridiculous.I think he,like most non Kiwis,would like some of the other international sides to challenge the AB’s supremacy a bit more often,but I have seen nothing but admiration for their ability from NB.

              • August 7th 2018 @ 6:36pm
                Jacko said | August 7th 2018 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

                Phill you are probably right re NB not really being anti ABs but he certainly, at times, tries to downplay the whole NZ influence on rugby throughout the wourld and he is often happy to downplay the ability of some of the NZ players that are superstars world wide…..Perhaps a little envy…perhaps even some distant admiration lol. And if he would like to see NZ challenged a bit more then he is not alone in that. I would sometimes like to see that also but not enough to win. i still remember the losses to Aus and SA over the years so love seeing dominance for as long as it lasts…these things are often cyclic so I will enjoy it for now

            • Columnist

              August 6th 2018 @ 9:38pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | August 6th 2018 @ 9:38pm | ! Report

              Yeah don’t you know how much I always pan the AB’s Jez?? Rubbishing their 8’s, their depth at 10, their top four SR sides. It’s utterly relentless criticism from beginning to end 😀

              • August 6th 2018 @ 9:42pm
                Internal Fixation said | August 6th 2018 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

                Didn’t you attribute the entire success of NZ SR teams and likely the all blacks to the presence of Ronan O’Gara 😉

              • Roar Guru

                August 6th 2018 @ 10:39pm
                jeznez said | August 6th 2018 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

                I don’t know how you live with yourself.

                🙂

          • August 6th 2018 @ 11:36pm
            Joe King said | August 6th 2018 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

            That’s because it’s so easy to tell they are playing mind games when they say Oz are favourites.

        • August 8th 2018 @ 10:11am
          Reality Check said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          Bernard Foley lost that second test. The players must shake their heads when his only job on a Rugby pitch is to kick a ball through the posts, and he misses.

          • Roar Guru

            August 8th 2018 @ 10:25am
            taylorman said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            Yes they shook it when he put them into a World cup semi, they shook it when he won a Super XV final as well…oh…wait…no ones ever missed a goal kick besides Foley in all of Rugby…

      • August 6th 2018 @ 3:18pm
        Riccardo said | August 6th 2018 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        Reckon the Wallabies have a decent side; it’s only the quality of the depth that remains a bit of an issue, but that’s improving too

        At home in the first Test of the Series.

        Victorious last time out.

        Confident after the Tahs’ showing in the Super Rugby finals.

        Favourites for this Test isn’t that hard a sell when you think about it although Cheika will probably find a way pretty quickly.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 2:48pm
      Old Bugger said | August 6th 2018 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

      And also, the improvements have continued in this year’s SR with wins registered by AU teams, against NZ teams. Overall, the WB players are gaining the greatest traction of all which is a belief, that they can win and that they have won. Strong belief indeed…… IMO, this is what Hansen is alluding to, when offering favouritism.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 11:34am
        Phil said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        OB,are you Hansens’ secret script writer?To say they are wary of the Wallabies improvement and expecting a tough game would be fair enough,but to suggest the WB’s are favourites is surely tongue in cheek stuff.

    • Roar Guru

      August 6th 2018 @ 3:08pm
      Hoy said | August 6th 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

      Ridiculous lip service.

      Look what happened after we won that last Bledisloe game… some hefty loses… this year? Nothing to really indicate that we can challenge… even the trial game was a bit of a farce in the regard that it was hardly good for combination building and ironing out kinks. Had it been against the Force, or someone who was established as a team then maybe… but to play two pick up teams like that wastes any opportunity you have…

      • August 6th 2018 @ 4:32pm
        Reverse Wheel said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

        Yep, so transparent.

      • August 7th 2018 @ 11:36am
        Phil said | August 7th 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        Yes,Hoy,and what about all the Kiwis saying we only beat a depleted side in a dead rubber in test 3?

        • Roar Guru

          August 7th 2018 @ 3:13pm
          Hoy said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          It’s their problem they put the team on the ground… not our problem. The win counts. But what happened after it on the Northern tour counts as well. We have no standing to indicate any form coming into this match.

          • August 7th 2018 @ 3:53pm
            Fionn said | August 7th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

            Yep. We just lost another home series to a team that is inferior to the All Blacks.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 3:45pm
      Julz said | August 6th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

      Well someone gotta take the first shot. Your turn now Cheika.

    • August 6th 2018 @ 4:20pm
      Faith said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

      Cheika will come out spluttering like he does even in the most innocuous moments when WBs are set to play ABs. WBs acquitted themselves well against the Irish even after a horrible EOYT. Pocock makes a difference … this series hinges on start in OZ soil. That’s the decider. With Read back that will be tough.

      • August 6th 2018 @ 5:54pm
        jack said | August 6th 2018 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

        And Retallick (chosen but not sure if he’s fit)

    • August 6th 2018 @ 4:25pm
      Englishbob said | August 6th 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

      The wallabies can’t be favourites but comparing the two squads theres one heck of a RC coming up, the wallabies have more improved cattle to a few years ago, they have some of the best backs in the world in beale and folau, Matt Toomua returning is a great coup. The pack is looking good, Pocock on fire, Timu, Coleman, Arnold. The only area that the AB’s have on paper dominance is the front row. Can’t wait!

      • August 6th 2018 @ 7:16pm
        Fionn said | August 6th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

        Englishbob I was actually thinking that we looked alright in the front row!

        Personally, I’m concerned with the back-row (Pocock is the best 7 in SANZAAR I think, but we don’t have that 6 and 8), and with 10 and 13.

        Still, I think we’ll be a lot more competitive than we were last year, so fingers crossed we can play well.

        • August 7th 2018 @ 5:03am
          Englishbob said | August 7th 2018 @ 5:03am | ! Report

          The front row is better than it has been for me, but can’t help but think that Tom Robertson isn’t up there with his all black counterparts yet. I can see chek picking Hanigan at 6…. I’d prefer Samu or even 6. These next few games will be very telling, chek hasn’t had a squad this good since the RWC 2015, it’d be nice to see if he encourages place competition and form or sticks with his tried and tested

      • August 8th 2018 @ 10:16am
        Reality Check said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Cheika wont pick the correct team ,so it is all irrelevant. AB`s 3nil.

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