Can the Wallabies bring the Bledisloe Cup home?

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    What is the haka? It is more than challenge thrown down, much more.

    It is New Zealand invoking the roots of its indigenous mana, grounding the All Blacks in the character and achievements of their forefathers. It is the most important period of focus immediately before the kick-off and not all opponents can match that intensity, or the sense of connection to their history.

    Before last season’s Bledisloe Cup win over New Zealand in Brisbane, the Wallabies made a similar effort to ‘come back home’ to something very fundamental in their cultural heritage.

    For the first time in Wallaby history, the national team adopted an Indigenous design on their jersey, representing the fourteen players of origin who have played for Australia at rugby union.

    Wallabies

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    There are far fewer indigenous players in union than there are proportionately in either Aussie rules or League. Those in league include a large bunch of all-time greats, players like Arthur Beetson, Steve Renouf, Greg Inglis, Laurie Daley, Johnathan Thurston and Gorden Tallis.

    In previous years, the NRL has sponsored games between teams of Indigenous players and World or NRL All-Stars. In 2010, both the jerseys and headgear of the team was decorated by Sid Domic, an ex-player and Indigenous artist.

    But for over 20 years between 1963 and 1984, the bedrock of ‘black versus white’ games – or ‘all blacks against all whites’ as it was described tongue-in-cheek – had been laid down more spontaneously, in a town out in the bush of West Queensland called Barcaldine.

    The highlight of what became a raucous rugby weekend celebration was the ‘Black and White ball’ on Saturday night at the Globe Hotel. Everyone attended, blackfella or whitefella alike. No one was excluded.

    The family at the heart of what would now be far more grandly perceived as a ‘reconciliation initiative’ were the Aboriginal Thompsons. They presided over a rugby carnival which began variously as an attempt to raise money for a child with cerebral palsy, or simply a challenge to find out who was better at the game, black or white.

    Nobody knows the truth for sure, but it doesn’t matter. Barcaldine is a town which can somehow accommodate both histories with a grin and a shrug of shoulders, it is a perfect storm in the middle of nowhere. As the latest torch-bearer of the Thompson legacy, Dave Thompson, says, “Reconciliation in Barcaldine began in the 1960s. If you’re a racist in Barcaldine, you won’t have too many mates.”

    Thompson is a custodian of the Iningai people from central-western Queensland, whose role is to provide a Welcome to Country and offer stories of the culture of his ancestors. Those stories, sometimes openly touching on the removal of the Iningai from their homes and the forcible suppression of their language and customs, are not always easy on the listener. They tend to “put him in a bit of a crouch,” as Thompson says with a wry smile.

    Kurtley Beale (the only Indigenous player in the current Wallaby side) underlined the need to reconnect with the Indigenous past in his speech when the new shirt was unveiled.

    “I see the other codes have an Indigenous round and I can just see the reaction from the Indigenous communities when Indigenous Round is up and it’s always a special day – the Welcome to Country, the smoking ceremonies, the dancers out on the field…

    “You don’t understand how important it is for myself and the other Indigenous players past and present to stand up and be role models for young Indigenous kids out there who are aspiring to be professional athletes.

    “It’s something that I hold close to my heart and I think it’s a great step forward.”

    Kurtley Beale throws a pass

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    For one evening at least, the design of the new jersey and Shannon Ruska’s outstanding ‘Welcome to Country’ before the game helped bring the importance of the likes of Lloyd Walker, Jim Williams and the Ella brothers home. There was a palpable sense of respect for the people who had gone before, and traversed the same rugby land as the current Wallabies – a sober gaze at the footprint of the past.

    ‘Bringing Them Home’ is the title of one of the most important political documents in recent Australian history, a 680-page report (tabled in Federal Parliament in 1997) recording the stories of an estimated 100,000 mixed-race children who were separated from their families by force, deception or under duress. They became known collectively as the ‘Stolen Generations’.

    The emotive force associated with the idea of ‘bringing them home’ was amply evident on that evening in Brisbane on October 21, 2017. It drove the Wallabies forward and hauled them over the top of New Zealand in a very tight game. They brought it home and closed it out when it mattered most.

    If the Wallabies are to win back the Bledisloe Cup in 2018, they will have to retrieve that emotion on a more regular basis and match the Kiwi connection with their own past embodied by the haka.

    On the tactical front, they will have to secure their own breakdown ball – an area where the All Blacks have tended to attack Australia in the recent past – and exit without avoidable hiccups from their own last third of the field.

    Above all, they will have to defend well, and in this area a big onus is likely to fall upon Reece Hodge, who I believe Michael Cheika will select in the crucial number 13 jersey for the first game of The Rugby Championship.

    There were some definite clues about Hodge’s ability to handle the position on that evening in Brisbane, even though he was defending for the most part at inside centre.

    The first example suggested that he might have a hard night ahead of him:

    This break occurred from a lineout where the All Blacks had caught the Wallabies in one of their ‘musical chairs’ formations. Instead of having Bernard Foley defending in the tram-lines, it is hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau – which means that Foley has to be in the 10 channel next to Hodge:

    reece hodge defensive play vs new zealand

    The New Zealand backs clearly identified the opportunity, using the size of Sonny Bill Williams to blot out Foley on the decoy, with Lima Sopoaga pulling Hodge wide to open the gap for an inside pass to Waisake Naholo. The break is not Hodge’s responsibility – he is confronted by a 2-v-1 because Foley cannot push Sonny Bill off and stay connected with the man outside him.

    The second incident (from a New Zealand scrum in the Wallabies 22) showed how well Hodge could cover for Foley’s absence:

    Initially, Foley is pulled a couple of steps across towards the far side by a Kiwi decoy at the base of the scrum, and is therefore out of the front line when Aaron Smith goes to pass the other way:

    With Will Genia right up on Sopoaga, Hodge is in perfect position to rush the gap between the All Black 10 and his centre, Ryan Crotty:

    reece hodge defensive play vs new zealand

    On the rush, there is no attempt to number up on the outside. The two Australian defenders there, Hodge and Beale, are simply looking to penetrate the gaps or make front-on hits – and this is where Hodge is at his best.

    Tevita Kuridrani was of great value to Hodge throughout the game in pointing out the spots where he could hit the bullseye:

    Here, the Australian lineout defence is in its alternate formation, with Foley in the tram-lines and Michael Hooper defending in the 10 channel. With Hooper more of a physical deterrent, the ball is shipped on to Crotty and Kuridrani is able to direct Hodge the exact point where the tackle will be made.

    reece hodge defensive play vs new zealand

    Hodge and Kuridrani worked well as a defensive pair in the centres, with Kuridrani often the chief influencer funnelling play back into his partner:

    Kuridrani’s rush cuts off the pass further out and forces the ball-carrier, Patrick Tuipulotu, to take the contact on Hodge’s terms.

    With Kuridrani out of the line-up and Hodge moved one place further out, the key question will be whether the Rebels utility can make those decisions by himself:

    In this instance, Kuridrani is policing the defence on the other side of a midfield ruck, which means Hodge is responsible for calling the shots out to the right side:

    reece hodge defensive play vs new zealand

    Hodge picks out the likely All Black first receiver Sonny Bill Williams, and that in turn releases Foley to rush out and make the tackle on Rieko Ioane. Michael Hooper completed a perfect defensive picture by winning a turnover at the ensuing ruck.

    Summary
    Rugby Australia should adopt the Indigenous jersey on a permanent basis. The build-up to the third Bledisloe match in Brisbane, both pre-game and during the week, created a positive emotional intensity for the Australian team. Reconnecting with your past will do that for you, as the All Blacks know only too well.

    The notion of racial reconciliation and ‘bringing them home’ is such a powerful sentiment in Australian culture as a whole that it can only benefit the game of rugby in the country. Hopefully, an active effort will be made to recruit and develop Indigenous players in the union game in future and add to those 14 Wallabies.

    That is the larger emotional and political background. The foreground is the selection and tactical approach of the two teams.

    Australia will have to pay attention to their ball control in contact and the accuracy of their exits – both areas where the All Blacks have reaped rich dividends in the recent past. Above all, the Wallabies will need to defend well, and a lot of the responsibility for that defence will necessarily fall on their number 13, whether it is Reece Hodge or Curtis Rona.

    Hodge has the experience at the spot inside, and there is no question about his tackling ability, but the game will place huge pressure on his ability to make the right call consistently in an unfamiliar position at this level.

    Success could be the making of Reece Hodge as an international player, and go a long way to bringing the Bledisloe Cup back to a Wallabies trophy cabinet from which it has been absent for far too long.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick's latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled The Iron Curtain. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (385)

    • August 8th 2018 @ 4:55am
      Bodger said | August 8th 2018 @ 4:55am | ! Report

      Early days but Rona has been 13 in the starting side training runs.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2018 @ 5:00am
        Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:00am | ! Report

        So maybe they’ll opt for the all-Tah midfield… Do you have any other inside track?? 🙂

      • August 8th 2018 @ 6:43am
        Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:43am | ! Report

        A bit sad to hear that, Bodger. The Waratahs’ midfield defence has been anything but tight at SR level, and it’s a bigger ask to defend against the All Blacks. I think Hodge is a better defender than Rona.

        • Columnist

          August 8th 2018 @ 6:51am
          Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:51am | ! Report

          Yes, I have yet to see the Waratah combo defend impressively as a unit, even when they’re winning games Fionn 🙂

    • August 8th 2018 @ 5:06am
      Galatzo said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:06am | ! Report

      This post makes you an honourable Aussie, Nicholas. A lot of Roarers have come out for making the indigenous jersey the permanent one. It should be, just on design alone. When Picasso was shown some Aboriginal artwork he said, “That’s what I’ve been trying to do all my life.”

      Responding to your headline, my answer would be Not a chance in NZ, and Maybe perhaps a slight possibility in Sydney. The ABs will be very strong at ever position and we won’t be very strong at every position.

      Re. the haka, Stu Wilson, a very fine AB winger I’m sure you remember, said that performing the haka drained them emotionally which was why they were always slow to start. Hen Wlad is pretty emotional too, but your lot are always fierce and hostile from the getgo.

      • August 8th 2018 @ 6:35am
        Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:35am | ! Report

        That’s a great story about Picasso 😊. Cheers

        • August 8th 2018 @ 7:58am
          Morsie said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

          It was actually about indigenous art from West Africa and New Guinea, more specifically masks.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2018 @ 8:52am
            Sage said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

            No Morsie, Picasso said it specifically about Aboriginal artist Yirawala, a highly respected Kuninjku man who was an artist and leader. ‘This is what I’ve been trying to achieve all my life’.
            As usual Nic, another great read . So much more than just a rugby commentary. I agree with you on the emotional intensity needed and how the indigenous jersey provides that. Reconnecting emotionally with our countries rich and ancient heritage is a positive thing for the Wallabies.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 9:49am
              Morsie said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

              OK I stand corrected. Picasso’s earlier influences were African masks and sculptures which lead to his primitivism – this was in the 20’s and 30’s (along with Matisse). He said very similar words about that art and its influence upon his early art. Australia indigenous art had not at that stage been transferred to canvas.

            • Columnist

              August 8th 2018 @ 3:08pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              Reconnecting emotionally with our countries rich and ancient heritage is a positive thing for the Wallabies.

              It’s the sort of thing that works on every level Sage – politically, in sport, at the individual level.

              I recall Stuart Lancaster had to create a lot of ‘pathways’ to get some English player to re-identify with the English jersey and a simple sense of national pride.

              He was relieved when he found that nobody at Leinster wanted to play anywhere else! The connection was already there…

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

                I recall Stuart Lancaster had to create a lot of ‘pathways’ to get some English player to re-identify with the English jersey and a simple sense of national pride.

                Saw a comment that Eddie Jones wants to meet up with Gareth Southgate ASAP to tap his brain how he got the English soccer team to embrace the jersey again and play with a lot of pride and little fear.

              • Roar Guru

                August 9th 2018 @ 12:46am
                RobC said | August 9th 2018 @ 12:46am | ! Report

                EJ should ask the Croats instead maybe haha

    • Columnist

      August 8th 2018 @ 5:12am
      Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:12am | ! Report

      When Picasso was shown some Aboriginal artwork he said, “That’s what I’ve been trying to do all my life.”

      That’s a beautiful addition – and one I agree with completely… thanks G!

      I guess Stu Wilson was the pre-pro era, now I think they use the haka to build and focus energy. It certainly doesn’t seem to leave them depleted…

      • August 8th 2018 @ 2:55pm
        Akari said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

        I won’t be surprised if Stu was still recovering from a night on the piss before game day too, Nick.

    • August 8th 2018 @ 5:27am
      Faith said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:27am | ! Report

      I think the WBs will take Sydney as ABs try new attack moves leaving Tokyo as decider. Finally the WBs seem to have a forward pack that’s not collectively poor as shown in June series. The ABs have beaten the WBs so often that they seemed to lack the hunger they’ve always had against them last season … this no longer excites as it used to. Anticipating Boks in S.A more …

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2018 @ 5:37am
        Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:37am | ! Report

        I’m not sure I can see why the AB’s would lack motivation against Australia Faith… I reckon they are improving quicker than SA – esp with important Europeans like Vermeulen missing and others like Bismarck and Frans Steyn blockaded by their clubs in France.

        The only big problem for Cheika is to decide who to pick at 13 with Kuridrani out. That could be a deal-breaker with NZ able to attack so well in that channel. With TK in place I would consider placing a modest wager on WB in Sydney!

        • August 8th 2018 @ 6:38am
          Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:38am | ! Report

          How can clubs block the release of players in the international window?

          We just lost to Ireland, an inferior team to the All Blacks, at home twice. Why would you have the optimism for a wager?!

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2018 @ 6:47am
            Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:47am | ! Report

            They can’t do it directly ofc, but they can exert a lot of pressure on players who are in a foreign country on a large contract. The attitude in France Top 14 is that you’re primary allegiance is to club not country – so if it’s not convenient for that player to spend time in an international window away from home. chances are he’ll feel persuaded not to make himself available.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 6:56am
              Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:56am | ! Report

              What is it about Aus’ form that makes you think we have a decent shot? I think we’re improving and hope you’re right, of course, but going from losing to Ireland twice in a row to beating the All Blacks is a significant improvement!

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 7:09am
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

                Things are coming together nicely in terms of selection (only a temp replacement for 13, a permanent 6 and sub 10 needed), and winning the Ireland series was well within the WB’s compass Fionn.

                Jack Dempsey still to come back and a lot of young forward who will develop quickly before the WC!

              • August 8th 2018 @ 7:30am
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:30am | ! Report

                Yeah, if Toomua can play well, Naisarani, Holloway or Timu improve to the level required and Gordon or Powell are given minutes as backup 9 we’re pretty strong in most positions.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 7:34am
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

                …and they are discovering more than one way to play the game – which means less predictable for opponents. Always helps 🙂

              • August 8th 2018 @ 8:12am
                Clifto said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

                What’s the latest on Dempsey’s return? Gutted he’s out. We’ve missed him

              • August 8th 2018 @ 12:24pm
                Cliff Bishkek said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                Fionn, what is the love affair with Toomua? Read yesterday that Cheika sees him as a No. 10. That he is not – definitely!! He is a No. 12 and only an outside chance of being a reserve 10.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 12:31pm
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

                I disagree that he is solely a 12. He played most of his early rugby as a 10, and I think he did a fine job of it. Scott Allen wrote a review of his performance in 2013 and concluded that he did decently at 10 and just lacked ‘spark’. Well, with Beale outside of him I think we have the spark, and to have another flashy player at 10 would not work at all.

                Also, with the way in which Cheika uses Beale whoever plays 10 will only play as first receiver a limited amount of time anyway. Whoever plays 10 will oscilate between 10 adn 12 regardless.

                The question in my eyes is how he matches up against Foley. Foley possess a better running game and support gam and is a better goal kicker.

                However, Toomua is an incomparably better defender, possesses a longer pass than Foley and has much more of a tactical kicking game. He is also a decent runner and support player as someone who plays a lot of 12.

                I don’t think he will necessarily be better than Foley but I hope that he is. England’s 10, George Ford, said that Toomua was the best 12 he had ever played with. I think he would be a good foil for Beale. I think he was one of Australia’s most underrated assets of recent years by Cheika. Link obviously saw what he offered.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 3:30pm
              woodart said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              yes, this overbearing behaviour has cost fiji, particulaly hard.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 10:15pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

                Indeed it has W – and they exploit the Fijians happiness to please people no end…

        • August 8th 2018 @ 7:38am
          bluesfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          I think you need to recall that the Brisbane match, the AB’s were down people like Retallick, Barrett etc – coming up against a first pick AB side will be challenging.

          Reality is that the Crusaders pack – plus Retallick/Cane – is going to be very tough to beat. And then consider the bench and who they can bring on the likes of McKenzie. What game changers will Oz be able to bring on?

          So hopefully Oz put up a decent show (compared to last years effort) – but reality is that the AB’s will dominate in the forwards – with Lineouts a particular challenge if they have Hooper/Pocock and an experienced Hooker playing and Oz’s hopes will lie around Genia, Beale and Folau dominate like they did in Dunedin last year.

          If I was a betting man – I think Tokyo is the game to aim for, especially if the Bledshoe has being put away for the year.

          • August 8th 2018 @ 8:15am
            Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

            Curious how when the All Blacks lose the talk seems to be on all the injuries they had, and yet the rest of the time Kiwi fans are happy to tell us about New Zealand’s incomparable depth.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 8:42am
              bluesfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

              Well looking at the team sheet from that game – I can see around 10 changes to the match squad come Sydney.

              But feel free to identify the weaknesses in that AB pack and how the Wallabies are going to beat them.

              This time you will be facing 2 Props in Moody/Franks/Retallick at lock and in the backs, Barrett over Sopaga, Smith/Barrett in for McKenzie etc. So I think the step up in quality is pretty self evident.

              It’s hard to see where exactly the Wallabies will be better – but feel free to identify the weakness – Scrum? Lineout? Breakdown – think Marx on Saturday and how the Crusaders handled him.

              To me dangers to the AB’s are Folau, Beale and Genia and what magic they can conjure – Pocock will get some turnovers – but will be penalised a couple of times – but if he and Hooper are on the field at the same time – good luck getting quality line out ball.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 10:36am
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

                I don’t think anybody would deny the team in Sydney was stronger than the team in Brisbane.

                However, somehow I doubt you use the excuse of Australia lacking their best playing in David Pocock to explain how they lost tests 1 and 2. Pocock surely would be worth an extra 5-8 points in test 2 either in attack or preventing the All Blacks scoring.

                I guess maybe the second test win to New Zealand does’t really count 🙂

              • August 8th 2018 @ 2:36pm
                Damo said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                Fionn. Wrong. It did count as the bledisloe was still up for grabs. By the 3rd test the abs had already won both trophies.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2018 @ 9:25am
              Paulo said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

              I’m not quite sure that’s where BF was going. No excuses for a loss, always factors involved in any result, but when two teams go out on the paddock, either team can win. Aussies were better on that day.

              NZ do have great depth, but not always across every position. And sometimes it is a big step down to the 2nd or 3rd stringer. Again though, no excuses for losing, I expect the ABs to win every game regardless of injuries.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 9:52am
              Jacko said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

              Thats the funny thing…if you have guys like BB and brodie out then I reckon that influences the way you can play and can have some direct affect on the result

              • August 8th 2018 @ 9:56am
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

                LOL, I was waiting for your reply, Jacko, and you didn’t disappoint! 🙂

              • August 8th 2018 @ 10:01am
                Jacko said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                i was going to reply to Nicks “ALL TAHS backline…LOL…all season together etc!!!

              • August 8th 2018 @ 10:26am
                Jacko said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                Fionn, I see you stole my winger for next season……I reckon you have a good player there

              • August 8th 2018 @ 11:30am
                Phil said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                If I recall,NZ had pretty close to their strongest side on the field in Dunedin and that was a fairly close thing.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 12:53pm
                moa said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

                I think the addittion/subtraction of Retallick would have a big impact on any team Fionn and I don’t see why you are being so ….antagonistic? ( for want of a better word )
                I don’t think either, that AB fans are alone in looking for ‘reasons’ or ‘excuses’ for why their team might have lost.
                We have had to wade through months of anguish here on the Roar about “lack of cattle” and “referee bias” and I think in light of that Bluesfan’s comment was absolutely innocuous.
                Anyway, no need to get bogged down in quibbling about this when we have 3 juicy encounters to look forward to.
                There is a fresh air of optimism once again pervading Aussie fans and i think Nick is generously lending some support.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 1:14pm
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                I don’t deny the All Blacks will be better with Retallick, Moa. But the fact is that absences are a fact of life – there is also no doubt that the Wallabies are stronger with Pocock than without.

                Quite so. Personally, I would be very surprised if we had any wins over the All Blacks this year because, as per usual, the All Blacks are just generally a better side. However, I think the Wallabies are much improved on last year and am optimistic we can compete better.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 5:11pm
                double agent said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

                “We have had to wade through months of anguish here on the Roar ”

                Feel free to stick to Kwi-Roar anytime.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 7:35pm
                ClarkeG said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                And if there was one would you be there?

                Yep.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2018 @ 10:27am
              yasserwallaby said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              If they had won that game in brisbane, I’m sure we’d heard a lot braggings about their depths. So which is it now? Depth, or no depth?

              • August 8th 2018 @ 10:52am
                Jacko said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                Yassa…No depth at all…..lose 1 player and its all over…Thats why the ABs are underdogs…clearly

              • Roar Rookie

                August 8th 2018 @ 10:53am
                Paulo said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

                But the ABs didn’t win. The Wallabies did. And no one bragged about depth after that AB win – as they didn’t win. Are you trying to criticise the comments that went made after something that didn’t happen?

                In relation to depth or no depth. Good depth in some positions, not as much in others.

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 12:01pm
                jeznez said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                😀 nice one Jacko, made me smile

            • Roar Pro

              August 8th 2018 @ 12:34pm
              Andy Thompson said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

              Death, Taxes and Kiwis never acknowledging when they were beaten fair and square are certainties in life.

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 2:47pm
                taylorman said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Dunno about that. Death and taxes will always be there, but kiwis may never lose again, so certainty is a bit strong.😆

            • August 8th 2018 @ 3:02pm
              Connor33 said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

              Very curious indeed, Fionn. For decades, all we hear is depth; yet they were minutes away from their first loss tab Eden Park since 1994.

              I just think it’s funny that all Pocock’s worth is: “a few turnovers” here and there. Crap in the lineout.

              I agree, Pocock is worth a try least 5-8 points. And Toomua in the 23 is probably worth 3. I guess we’ll find out. But as you’ll see in my post below, with all the Ab chest beating, they have never faced the five players that I mentioned in the past 2 year so at the same time.

              Unlike , the Abs. we don’t ostracize our players if they ply their trade for a year or two o/s—yet Hansen is scathing when it happens on the other side of the ditch.

              But I guess, the Abs can do that because their depth is inifiinte—which I agree with—making for the excuse vis-a-vis the Third Test all the more bizarre. Incidentally, didn’t Hansen ply his trade o/s…I won’t digress.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:28pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Yes important to remember that there were two games, not one, which arguably should have gone Australia’s way in 2017 – and guys like Ben Smith, BB, Retallick and Moody were all playing and available in the second one. SR results will also bolster the WB belief that they can run any AB side close.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 6:02pm
                zhenry said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

                ABs had the Lions in 2017, by the championship they were b…..ed. Their tight 5 had to go to SA for the Super final. It was non stop and many of the tight 5 did breakdown especially the props.

              • Roar Guru

                August 9th 2018 @ 7:32pm
                Kane said | August 9th 2018 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                Nicholas, the Dunedin test arguably should have gone the Wallabies way as arguably as the Brisbane test should have gone the All Blacks way.

                In the end the better team on the night won.

                Connor33 Hansen has picked players after they’ve come back from overseas. Who has come back that has been good enough that wasn’t selected?

              • Columnist

                August 10th 2018 @ 3:31pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 10th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                The point was simply that the WB had acquired the confidence to know they could get close to the ABs, and it wasn’t just a one-off. I felt the WB had a good grip on the second half at Brisbane and were in control of the game, although they caught the ABs ‘with their pants down’ in Dunedin.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm
              woodart said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

              stop trying to play the victim fionn, usually when the All Blacks get beaten, most kiwi fans praise the play of the winning team.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 3:49pm
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                Yeah, I don’t deny that they do, woodart. That’s very true. 🙂

              • August 9th 2018 @ 12:52am
                ozinsa said | August 9th 2018 @ 12:52am | ! Report

                I do. There are undoubtedly a mix of good and bad supporters on both sides but it’s a constant annoyance to me how I hear only we were good or we were bad to explain wins and/or losses.
                There is too infrequently an acknowledgement that the opposition had a say in the outcome of the match.
                Let’s hope there’s a loss and I’m disproved and forced to apologise after Sydney.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2018 @ 9:04am
            Sage said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

            Yes yes, Bluesfan. You only lost because you were down some players. It wasn’t a “real” win.
            So the WB’s losing in the last minutes in NZ and then winning here and you’re hoping for a decent show this year “compared to last years effort”. How can we not love such graciousness.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2018 @ 9:51am
              ChrisG said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

              You seem to have read a lot into Bluesfan’s comments. Graciousness indeed.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 10:42am
              bluesfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              I’m just making the point that the AB team will be manifestly stronger than what was rolled out for the Brisbane test.

              I mean I think a team with BB and Retallick is stonger – all am I missing something called common sense.

              In regards if it was a “fair win” of course it was – generally you look at the number of points on the board to indicate who won and on that night it was Oz?

              But feel free to take offence – rather than look at some hard facts – as I said above – with the team that the AB’s put out – where are the Wallabies superior?

              • August 8th 2018 @ 11:52am
                Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                The Wallabies weren’t really superior anywhere in Bledisloe 3 last year either, except perhaps at inside centre.

                The Wallabies just played better on the night, which is all it taks to win a game even against superior opposition.

                The All Blacks will likely be stronger than in Bledisloe 3 last year, but the Wallabies look better also.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 3:12pm
                Connor33 said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                Is one man’s superioty; another’s inferiority…complex?

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:30pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

                The ABs were full strength bar Owen Franks in the second match at Dunedin, and they were seconds away from losing that one as well…. 🙂

              • August 8th 2018 @ 7:25pm
                Jacko said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:25pm | ! Report

                But they didnt Nick, And Aus was gifted 3 trys in the first 20mins due to Abs errors and 2 big slices of luck . Then they had the game sewn up with 5 to go and either they blew it or NZ stepped up when needed…..as they often do…..coulda, shoulda, woulda does not count at the end of the match….lets face it in the 3rd test NZ coulda woulda shoulda…….but they didnt so AUS won

              • August 8th 2018 @ 9:56pm
                Brian George said | August 8th 2018 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

                There he goes again Jacko, going all postal on the all blacks…

              • August 9th 2018 @ 10:02am
                Reality Check said | August 9th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                Bernard Foley cost the Wallabies that Dunedin test match. His wayward goalkicking at the indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium cost them nine crucial points — and the match.

                Australia would have been 24-7 up after half an hour had Foley not missed two easy conversion attempts and an simple penalty.Instead, the visitors clung for dear life to a three-point lead at the interval and lost their lead when Barrett barrelled over in the 63rd minute.Foley missed another conversion minutes later after Will Genia crossed, hitting the upright to leave the door open for the world champions.The rest is history.

              • August 9th 2018 @ 3:21pm
                Boggles the Mind said | August 9th 2018 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Agree RC,

                How Bernard Foley keeps getting selected just for his goalkicking is mindboggling, The Iceman has only one job to do, kick goals, and can`t even do that.

          • August 8th 2018 @ 11:18am
            MitchO said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            BF the ABs are better team with no obvious weaknesses but the AB scrum is not outstanding and I doubt it is better than ours.

            Their lineout is better but the Wallabies should be able to to win their own ball. Particularly with Tui at 6. Retallick is a point of difference as he is comfortably the best lock on the paddock and Whitelock and even Barret very good. The AB forwards will be better around the ground. Hopefully we can do enough and Pocock and Hooper something special each.

            Australia need to replicate the linesspeed and physicality we showed in test 1 against Ireland.

            Because I am old fashioned and not very bright I am concerned when a team lets the other have 70% possession. I’d much rather have the ball than not. I’d be happier if the Crusaders and the ABs had more ball and don’t know whay they don’t.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 12:59pm
              moa said | August 8th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

              MitchO
              I think one of the ABs biggest weaknesses in recent years has been their propensity to throw interceptable passes.Would love to know exactly how many tries have been scored against NZ in this manner in the past 3 years.

              I also think you do Whitelock a huge disservice with the “very good” label.I believe he is a great.
              In an age when the word is overused, I use it deliberately.My opinion of course, feel free to disagree! 😉

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 1:31pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

                I think one of the ABs biggest weaknesses in recent years has been their propensity to throw interceptable passes.Would love to know exactly how many tries have been scored against NZ in this manner in the past 3 years.

                High risk, high reward gameplan. Usually, the equation works out just fine, Two tries for the price of one intercept is a good deal.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:32pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

                I think you’d have to say Sam Whitelock is one of the great second rows of the professional era Moa. His kind of longevity always tells the truth 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              August 8th 2018 @ 1:28pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

              but the AB scrum is not outstanding and I doubt it is better than ours.

              During 2017 the AB’s scrum record on their own feed was 100 percent. Yes, not one single penalty or free kick did they give away. Don’t remember the number now, but they- by far – won most penalties, free kicks, stole the ball from the opponents feed in the Test arena also.

              IMHO is the AB’s scrum is the most underrated part of their game, even some Kiwis here at the Roar seems to be unaware what force their scrum has been lately.

              Because I am old fashioned and not very bright I am concerned when a team lets the other have 70% possession. I’d much rather have the ball than not. I’d be happier if the Crusaders and the ABs had more ball and don’t know whay they don’t.

              Because they usually score as soon as they get the ball. If the AB’s had 70 percent possession and territory we would be looking at 40 plus points wins for the AB’s (as we have seen from time to time).

              And hey MitchO, you might be old, but I don’t think any Roarer believes that you are not very bright.

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 2:30pm
                Sam Taulelei said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                “IMHO the AB’s scrum is the most underrated part of their game”

                +1 For whatever reason, the All Blacks scrum is often underplayed as a threat by opposition teams and fans. On their own feed, it’s often solid and stable providing the ideal platform to launch an attack or clear in defence. On opposition feed more often than not they’ve disrupted, squeezed so the ball can’t be cleared or pushed the opposition off the ball.

                The Wallaby scrum has improved a lot as well and is better than most people give credit for, however they are more prone to lapses in concentration which then raises those old stereotypes.

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 2:50pm
                taylorman said | August 8th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

                Underated is exactly where we want it to be. Thats why it gives some the impression we dont know how good it is.

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:06pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

                “We?”

                Had no idea you are a part of the AB’s setup T-man. But it sure explains how you can know exactly how Hansen think about everything between the sun and the moon.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

                Mitch is old but he’s still good…

              • August 8th 2018 @ 3:45pm
                woodart said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

                owen franks may not have scored a triy in 98 tests, but he has certainly started many try scoring moves, and his fellow players certainly rate him.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 5:29pm
                MitchO said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

                As a retired front rower I am not prepared to concede scrum dominance before the series starts. The Irish scrum didn’t smack us and neither will the ABs.

                I am happy for Whitelock to be considered great. I did not refer to Brodie as being great though. I just said I thought he was comfortably the best lock out there.

                Brodie and Whitelock individually and collectively are superior to the Wallaby locks but I don’t think it will cost Australia the game. I think we will be overpowered and overrun in the backs. Guys like Crotty rather than Mooddy and Retallick.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 5:41pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                Nor should you Mitch – it’s the best group of front rowers to emerge in Australian rugby in the pro era!

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 7:46pm
                taylorman said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                ‘We?’

                ‘even some Kiwis here at the Roar seems to be unaware what force their scrum has been lately.’

                Yeah…’We’…

              • Roar Guru

                August 8th 2018 @ 8:41pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:41pm | ! Report

                “We?”

                So you are the official spokesperson for all regular Kiwis here at the Roar?

              • Roar Guru

                August 9th 2018 @ 1:06am
                RobC said | August 9th 2018 @ 1:06am | ! Report

                Nick. Agree about the props. But WB hookers is a big problem imo

            • August 8th 2018 @ 1:40pm
              bluesfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

              The AB Scrum is not outstanding?

              Don’t you recall the dominance that the AB’s established over the Wallabies last year? Foley’s try in the 2nd test in Dunedin was because the Wallabies scrum was being shunted so fast back that the ball spat out and Genia was able to pick up and scoot away.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Joe Moody and French refs does not seem a happy combo though BF!

              • August 8th 2018 @ 4:43pm
                MitchO said | August 8th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                Sio is sometimes useless and sometimes very good. But no I am not concerned about the scrum.

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2018 @ 3:15pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

            Well lineout wasn’t a problem for Oz against NZ last season BF. IIRC they lost one throw in about 29 against the ABs over the three matches with a similar small B/R concept – Dempsey, McMahon and Hooper at the end. And I doubt there will be a lot in the scrums either way… Strongest six front-rowers there the WB has been able to put out recently. So I feel it could be the closest first RC match for many many years – if the Australian midfield D can hold up, and that is a big IF.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 7:10pm
              bluesfan said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

              I’m not going to disagree with you Nick. And I think the Wallabies are starting to step up – however as seen weekend prior – the AB’s are extremely solid side – with little identifiable weakness – maybe Sam Cane – don’t think his form has being that good.

              Whilst the Wallabies have people like Genia, Folau and Beale – you know that they will be a danger – however I’m yet to be convinced by the Oz pack has the ability to either 1. gain dominance 2 keep parity.

              Let’s just remember how the Wallabies folded against Scotland in the last game of 2017 – Whilst they had a RC – the way they folded was embarrassing (vs. AB’s in Lions game) – and so I wonder how they will go when the heat goes on them.

            • Roar Guru

              August 9th 2018 @ 1:11am
              RobC said | August 9th 2018 @ 1:11am | ! Report

              Whilst SeanMc is only slightly taller than Poey. He is a regular and viable LO target. Springs in his feet I guess. So last year’s LO wasn’t as suspect as this year I think

              • Columnist

                August 9th 2018 @ 1:55am
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 9th 2018 @ 1:55am | ! Report

                Also remember that Jack Dempsey is a lot smaller than Lukhan Tui at 6, so that would prob cancel it out!

              • Roar Guru

                August 9th 2018 @ 2:27am
                RobC said | August 9th 2018 @ 2:27am | ! Report

                Could be Nick! Though I must say Sean is the diff there. Truly an amazing player who performs in a totally higher weight category whilst maintaining speed and stamina. Part physical, mostly attitude

                As an aside another Queenslander Izzy Perese who is recognised as even more aggressive than Sean. And it shows on the paddock.

                I hope we are able to keep him. There’s murmuring of a move…

        • August 8th 2018 @ 4:31pm
          Suzy said | August 8th 2018 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

          I am obviously biased, but I believe the Boks could be on the up. Just looking at the turn outs at the practise games, you can see having Siya as captain, has swung the support of the whole nation behind the Boks.
          It’s not something that an outsider can understand, it’s a feeling. You talked about harnessing that inner warrior spirit that the Hake portrays. Well South Africa have that for the first time in a long time.

          Not so sure, that those European players are as big a loss as you make out. Duane Vermeulen is a loss, but he has been replaced by Warren Whiteley. Warren might not be as physical but he is still good player.
          On top of that Rassie has recalled Frans Louw, the Bath Captain, so the loose trio with Siya will be threatening. Malcolm Marx, who was injured for the England series is back, and playing well. I believe Malcom Marx is better than Bismark. Frans Steyn is probably the greatest loss, I agree. But he hasn’t had a good game in the Bok jumper for a while. Let’s see how it all pans out?

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2018 @ 10:22pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

            I’d agree that SA did rediscover some of that indomitable Bokke spirit in the England series Suzy – and if Rassie picks Louw for Vermeulen, he’ll minimize the damage caused by the Great Dane’s unavailability. Backs defence may be a concern given England’s start in the first two Tests however.

            • August 9th 2018 @ 9:37am
              Suzy Poison said | August 9th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

              Agree about back-line defensive frailties. Jacques Nienaber has work to do. Only positive is,
              number of tries conceded, per test, went from 5 tries, to 2 tries to one in the last test.

              • Columnist

                August 9th 2018 @ 3:58pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 9th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

                Nienaber is a highly respected D coach, so it would only be right to expect the are to improve (though NZ attack will be a lot more potent than England’s).

      • August 8th 2018 @ 1:18pm
        P2R2 said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

        ….The ABs have beaten the WBs so often that they seemed to lack the hunger they’ve always had against them ….

        whoa….they never lack the hunger against the WBs mate…where’d you get that??

    • Roar Guru

      August 8th 2018 @ 5:28am
      taylorman said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:28am | ! Report

      Lovely balanced piece Nick. Agree with the jersey and Hodge. I think the jersey will do enough as representation of Australias past, present and future and no haka like entity required.

      Past fronting up to past… this is us, this is you.. would bring together what are two essentially south Pacific nations playing a game theyve played eachother for well over a century now.

      There are small signs Oz are showing potential and already have a test win in 2018, so theyll want more. This years Bled and RC should serve us better than last year though that could depend on whether the ABs are poised to make another break from the peleton.

      I think they are, and by years end we’ll find out for sure who’s going to make the break with them.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2018 @ 5:42am
        Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:42am | ! Report

        Thanks T-man. For me as a non-Australian it was a learning exercise – but a very instructive one.

        Atm I’d anticipate Australia being the most serious test for NZ in the Rugby Championship. SA will prob get there eventually but right now they are too dependent on a few key individuals in the spine of the side (all Europeans except for Marx).

        If the ABs win the game in Sydney comfortably, the next most stringent challenge may well be the England-Ireland one-two punch in November. I don’t see Argentina having the cattle to cause much trouble, even under better coaching from Ledesma.

        • August 8th 2018 @ 5:55am
          Bodger said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:55am | ! Report

          Is Faf de Klerk playing? He was a revolution for SA against England. He ran the SA team, bossed them about and everything he did he seemed to have so much time. It was great to see a scrum half taking them on in every aspect. He will be a huge hole if he isn’t playing.

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2018 @ 6:01am
            Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:01am | ! Report

            I believe he is, though Vermeulen will be missing injured at 8 – a huge loss they will struggle to replace. They don’t have another 8 in the same league as him.

            • August 8th 2018 @ 6:40am
              Fionn said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:40am | ! Report

              Whiteley is a good 8 though, and a great leader.

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 6:48am
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 6:48am | ! Report

                Seems like a good person and a leader of men – but not in the same class as the Great Duane as a player… SA needs a big physical eighth man, and WW ain’t it.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 11:56am
                Johnny Boy said | August 8th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                Was really disappointed with Whiteley’s performance against the Crusaders. I have always felt that the Du Prezz twins are better footballers anyway and are the next best after Vermeulen.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 3:15pm
                Akari said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                I’ve never heard of Cyle Brink (sorry Lions fans) until he announced himself last weekend. He looks much bigger than his official 190 cms. SA must find him a place in their top 23 as a possible 6/8 replacement IMO.

              • August 8th 2018 @ 7:39pm
                Suzy Poison said | August 8th 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                Reports from the republic are Rassie is considering Frans Louw as a 8th man with Marco Van Staden a potential bolter.

                https://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/RugbyChampionship/rassie-to-unleash-bok-bolter-for-durban-20180806

                Rassie says he would have played Van Staden agaisnt England if not injured

              • Columnist

                August 8th 2018 @ 8:00pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

                PSDT-Louw-Kolisi would work in terms of B/R balance, don’t know anything about van Staden though SP!

        • August 8th 2018 @ 1:01pm
          moa said | August 8th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

          Nick
          Beautiful, facinating, informative and provocative! I can see why they keep you on….

          • Columnist

            August 8th 2018 @ 3:16pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

            Cheers Moa – always holding on by my fingernails!

      • Roar Guru

        August 11th 2018 @ 10:23am
        Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Good post Tman.
        And another timely piece by you Mr Bishop.

        Nice mix of indigenous cultural policy and rugby, two of my favourite things😄.
        “Nothing in the world can stand in the way of an idea whose time has come” Victor Hugo.

        We are at our most confident level pre-Bledisloe now for a couple of years.
        Recent years WB fans have at this time of year started clenching their eyes shut, waiting for the impact of the locomotive painted all black.
        Thi may still be the outcome of course given the form of the Crusader Blacks, with added spice from counties all over NZ.
        But despite WB selections being imperfect IMHO, skill levels and combo competence has risen (Byrne?).
        Still not confident of a win in Sydney, but would not be surprised if the team somehow learn from Dunedin ‘17 experience and the Tahs’ Moodygate momentum shift this year, and apply some coordinated tactical heat to the GOAT team.

        • Columnist

          August 11th 2018 @ 3:53pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | August 11th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          Thanks Ken. Yep I think it’s reasonable for Australia to approach the game with more (justifiable) confidence than they may have done in previous years… The SR performance of the four teams was more substantial and most of the trans-Tasman matches were competitive. There’s the kernel of a very good WB side there in the making!

    • Roar Guru

      August 8th 2018 @ 5:29am
      Nobrain said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      The shirt will help, but the breakdown battle and the the administrators of the ball will be the key for their failure or success.

      • Columnist

        August 8th 2018 @ 5:46am
        Nicholas Bishop said | August 8th 2018 @ 5:46am | ! Report

        Emotion first, tactics second, technique and execution third! I’d like to see Australia embrace that ‘origin’ feeling, even though there aren’t many Indigenous players of WB standard right now… The Ella brothers ofc added a whole new dimension to that Australian side of the 1980’s, like a comet crossing the heavens 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          August 8th 2018 @ 10:12am
          Machooka said | August 8th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          ‘… The Ella brothers ofc added a whole new dimension to that Australian side of the 1980’s, like a comet crossing the heavens 🙂 ‘

          Love it Nicholas!

        • Roar Guru

          August 11th 2018 @ 10:33am
          Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | August 11th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          That’s why they called it ‘Ella magic’ Nicholas.
          It was a magical era for OZ rugby too.

          I once faced one third of that brotherhood in seven a side combat. Sadly have precious little memory of it due to concussion that day.
          (Magical Mark may have knocked me out without laying a finger on me)
          Concussion hasn’t affected me one bit.
          Missus disagrees.

        • August 11th 2018 @ 5:37pm
          Fin said | August 11th 2018 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

          Nick,
          Why can’t the Wallabies raise their intensity to state of origin level for these Bledisloe games? It’s a three match series (like origin), there’s the fierce rivalry (like origin), and there’s the hype (like origin).

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