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Own the haka, own collisions, own the rolling maul - and 27 other ways to beat the All Blacks

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Expert
13th August, 2021
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Beat the All Blacks?

Jeez, I dunno.

Well, I do. And you, Wallabies fan, do, too. And, importantly, they do, the team, because they’ve done it before.

But whether these Wallabies can pull off all these manoeuvres for 80 minutes on Saturday night remains to be seen.

Well, again, it has been seen.

We saw it in the last 15 minutes of the Test match last Saturday.

Andrew Kellaway scores debut try for the Wallabies

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

We saw it in the draw in the first Bledisloe of last year when Reece Hodge hit the damned post.

We saw it in the 24-22 win in the dead rubber fourth Test of that beleaguered season 2020.

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We don’t see it enough when it matters.

But we do know this: these people can be beaten. And they can be beaten by Australia.

Much has to go right, however. And I would posit that these 30 things, for a start, have to go right.

You could probably add a few. Do your best.

1. Don’t make mistakes.

2. Prey on their mistakes. To wit: Do to them what they’ll do to you if you make mistakes, which is take opportunities. You make a mistake against the All Blacks, nine out of ten times it means points. So do that to them, every chance you get.

3. Play the game. You’re clearly good enough to play for Australia. Enjoy it, you big lug. Be you. Do you.

4. Pressure every play. Every contest.

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5. Win the collisions. Verily smash over that advantage line by believing you’re going to run through it. You watch the crazier of the Mungos in State of Origin, they actually believe they’re going to get through. It’s not a collision for them, it’s about smashing through the wall, obliterating it and ending up the other side in space and running free like the buffalo.

Ardie Savea

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

6. Win scrums and scrum penalties and revel in them. The scrum is the engine room of the XV. Happy scrummagers equal happy team. The Wallabies scrum is actually pretty good. So get around ‘em. Come from everywhere. They care not for pinheads’ opinions. But it is a nice thought and fans enjoy it.

7. Win lineouts! For dear sweet Wade Dooley’s sake win the lineouts. Mark Loane once said losing lineouts is the “slow poison” of rugby. He was talking about the 2003 Rugby World Cup final. And I’ve used the quote at least once a year since. Still holds up. Just win your lineout. Because from that can begat…

8. Rolling mauls, which we must own. A good rolling maul is like a multi-armed amoeba, broiling down field, enveloping all, even the backs, as black jumpers are spat out like the seeds of a watermelon tumbling down a hill. Or something I dunno but we have a fine rolling maul courtesy of the Brumbies and their ex-coach Dan McKellar, who is now the Wallabies’ forwards coach. There are points in the amoeba.

9. Win the haka. Line up in the boomerang and eyeball those bad boys. Pick one out. Own him. And feast on the energy of one of the great things in world sports. It’s a challenge. Accept it. Own it. Win it.

10. In fact win all the contests across the park. Everything. Win the kick-off. Win the short drop-out. Win the passion stakes at the anthem. Someone blubber, loudly.

David Havili scores a try for the All Blacks

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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11. Don’t give away too many penalties. Lookin’ at you, ‘enforcer’ Lachie Swinton, but also you Rob Valetini and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. I mean…

12. Don’t go changin’, of course. But tackle low as you can, aim a hard shoulder at mid-sternum and launch from a low point to a higher one. Do not touch your opponent’s head, ever, even to pat it like Frank Bunce patted Pat Howard on debut at Carisbrook in 1993.

13. Because you must stay on the field. This is important.

14. Kick the ball out if given the chance.

15. Kick the ball between the big sticks if given the chance. Come on, Noah, all is forgiven.

16. Do not die wondering. Keep that pill alive. Offloads in the maelstrom of broken play can set scurrying critters free. See agenda item one, of course but also number three. Balancing these things is the key to victory.

17. Don’t bloody wait until the last 15 minutes of the game to play your best rugby.

18. Give the ball to Hunter Paisami early and often.

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19. Give the ball to Marika Koroibete earlier and more often.

20. Start Tate McDermott.

Tate McDermott in action for the Wallabies

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

21. Tackle, a lot.

22. Particularly tackle one or both of their yappy little halfbacks and immobilise them through the use of short-term pain. Tackle the ten like that, too. And the fullback. And both wingers. And do what you can with the back row. Okay? Thanks.

23. Hope the All Blacks are a few percentage points off in terms of subconscious lethality. They seem a nice group of people. Perhaps they are tired of winning the Bledisloe Cup for 20 years straight and not losing at Eden Park since 1986.

24. Do not do that. There is no ‘hope’. There is only ‘do’.

25. Did I mention kicking all those goals? Good. Do that.

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26. Revel as underdogs. Have a crack. Because it is expected you will lose. Wallabies fans, well, we understand. They are better, particularly over there on that particular patch. Thirty-six years of losing rather gives one a certain pragmatism. It hurts less that way.

27. Not to say we don’t think you can and should win every time you run out in the newly-gold jumper though.

28. But we understand.

29. But enough! Go out and go hard and bloody enjoy it! I did a story for Inside Sport 20 years ago because Brett Sheehan of all people was debuting for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and I was in the coach’s box with Craig Coleman when he was coach of Souths.

In his motivational speech in the sheds before the game he said, “Fellas! It’s just like when you go to a dance. You don’t sit on the side like a wallflower, you bloody go and have a go. You dance!”

The Bunnies were then slaughtered 42-16 by the Brisbane Broncos. But the message holds up. Have a go or die tryin’. We’ll still love you with a brave defeat. Or even a whipping. But we’ll love you lots more if you, you know…

30. Win! And you can do that by channelling the passion and mojo and never-say-die Aussie spirit that won us 17 gold medals in Tokyo, but which more importantly won us a Test match and series against France with 14 men.

We know you can do it. And you know you can do it.

So now, friends, just do it. Just win.

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