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How the Wallabies fell for Steve Hansen's predictable trap

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Expert
12th August, 2019
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15172 Reads

You know, I’ve seen New Zealanders do some underhanded things in my time, from hands in the ruck to tricking Greg Chappell into ordering an underarm. But I never thought the deviousness of that nation would ever sink to such depths as it did on the weekend just past.

What a cruel trick to play on the Australian people, to deliberately lie down and concede a record victory, just to make us think the Wallabies have a chance of winning the Bledisloe Cup. Just to give us hope for the future, to better enjoy the delight of dashing it later on.

What has Australia done to deserve such treatment? I mean, yes, of course, from the New Zealand perspective, I know what we’ve done, but you know, are we really so bad that we should be humiliated in this way?

Just look at all the articles about the Wallabies in the wake of the Test. They’ve found the answers. They’re in good shape for the World Cup. There’s a new day dawning for Australian rugby. Years of heartache are at an end and redemption is at hand for our plucky gold-clad warriors.

Well, I hope all the pundits writing such sadistic trash reflect on what they’ve done in a week’s time, when Australia has been blown off Eden Park and all the players have entered therapy. And I hope the All Blacks do too, as it’s entirely their fault that these innocent young Aussies have been fooled into swallowing a fantasy.

Basically, what New Zealand has done to Australia is what the popular kids did to Carrie: they’ve voted for the Wallabies to be prom queen, and in Auckland on Saturday they will dump a full bucket of pig’s blood on their heads.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen smiles at a press conference

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

I mean, you know that’s going to happen, right? I’ve not been this certain of an imminent Australian defeat since, well, since last week, to be honest. But that’s the point: the victory in Perth was so unexpected, so freakish, so completely outside the bounds of feasibility, that no rational person could possibly take it on face value.

It would’ve been so much kinder for the All Blacks to simply do as they always do: give the Wallabies a harsh and deserved lesson in the realities of Test rugby, so they can go back and work on their faults, and come out next time and get beaten again. It’s the natural order of things, there seems no pressing need to mess with it.

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If New Zealand had really felt the need for a fun diversion, they could’ve been satisfied with giving up a half-time lead. At that point, Australians everywhere were feeling their hearts swell with unfamiliar optimism: wouldn’t it have been enough to pull the rug out in the second half, to raise and smash our hopes in the same night? Why must they drag it out for a whole week?

And having a man sent off, that was just the cherry on the cake, wasn’t it? A perfect way to create the illusion of a team falling apart at the seams with complacency and ill-discipline.

And dammit, the Wallabies fell for it. They came out in the second half and steamrollered the All Blacks, rather than doing the prudent thing: refusing to come out of the dressing rooms until Steve Hansen admitted he was screwing with us. Stay in there all month if you have to. Just don’t give in to the mind games.

Well, we’ve had the set-up… now what’s the punchline? What will the scoreline be at Eden Park? 50-0? 60-0? 75-0 and Kurtley Beale breaking his leg in the first minute? Whatever it is, it’ll be ugly.

Not as ugly, however, as the ugliness in the hearts of the New Zealand hierarchy who cooked up this vicious scheme. Is it not enough that Australia is your whipping boy? Must you also make us your plaything?

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Over the last 17 years, Australian rugby has gradually become accustomed to the fact that we have no hope at all in games against New Zealand. We are comfortable with it. To upset that comfort now by fanning the flames of delusion, well, it’s poor sportsmanship.

You’re better than that, All Blacks.

I hope by the time the World Cup rolls around, you’re able to show it.

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