If ever there was a ‘who-cares’ Bledisloe game then this it!
With the ‘Auld Mug’ well and truly decided, both teams will have their eyes on the riches the un-plundered North offers. While there is more motivation for the Wallabies to win this encounter, the simple fact they have been unable to beat the AB’s in the last six games points to more of the same.
Sluggish ticket sales for the game in Tokyo and the feeling in the rugby public of both protagonists’ countries suggest this is nothing more than an exhibition game – the real interest will be in seeing what affect changes to both camps will make.
The Wallabies go into the game a team searching for a raison de’tre after major off-field surgery and a post Tri-Nation tilt that has been riddled with rumours of player discontent and rancour. The AB’s have also made some changes to their set-up but these are largely peripheral and aimed at nothing more than keeping the vociferous New Zealand rugby public at bay.
If anything the Wallabies face their nemesis with their strongest XV of recent times, however the impending withdrawal of Berrick Barnes through injury may change this equation somewhat. The not so small fact of Bam Bam replacing George in the starting line-up may also be a point of discussion.
For the first time this year the Wallabies look to have some real try scoring ability out wide with Diggers and the fully fit Peter Hynes, but the fact remains they have not been able to stretch the AB’s and retain possession consistently, so this new found strike power may count for nothing.
As with most games the battle around the tackle area will decide who will win this game and in a battle between Pocock vs Richie, there will only ever be one winner.
The most telling point of recent Wallaby games was their only victory came against a distracted Bokkie outfit that a week later squared the ledger against the AB’s and won the Tri-Nations in a close run thing. Although the week previous in Brisvegas the Wallabies looked unbeatable, on balance, quite simply our lads are not in the same class.
As much as the ARU Spin-Doctors talk of ‘growth’ and that truly awful Seppo euphemism of ‘stepping-up’ the fact remains you can’t polish a turd, and in relation to the All Blacks, the Wallabies are a steaming brown mass.
If there was ever a metaphor that summed up the Wallabies so far this year it came in the form of their visit to the famous Tokyo fish-market. Unfortunately they chose to visit the market on the only day it was shut for the month and returned to the team hotel sleep deprived and with their tails well and truly between their legs. Once again, they zigged when they should have zagged.
I’ll be stuffed and burned if I would ever tip an All Black victory over our boys, but things aren’t looking good
Cote says – Wallabies by 1