The way the rugby press has reacted to the
weekend’s Test, you could be forgiven for thinking Australia
had just been whipped by some insignificant minnow like Russia.
(Actually, that happened two months ago in the Sevens variant at Twickenham – but
there was precious little written about it.)

For the record, we did beat South Africa 20-18, albeit more by luck than good management or skill. It was a
bit like all those World Cup soccer games – nothing much happened until the
last few minutes when it was suddenly
close and rather exciting, but by then many a rugby fan’s frustration threshold
had been reached.

The game did mean an addition to the
Wallabies’ trophy cabinet by regaining the Mandela Cup (which is really a
plate) and confirmed our bronze medal in world rankings – but there’s a very
big gap between third and second, let alone first.

Perversely, the good news is that the Wallabies
weren’t good. If they had played to their full potential and soundly defeated
the Springboks again, Knuckles Connolly might not have been given the
ammunition he needs to keep on track for France in

George Gregan, after a fantastic career, must
go. Greg Growden is leading the baying pack on that one. It’s a symptom of how predictable
Gregan has become that it’s a cause celebre when he did have a couple of dabs
on Saturday.

Only a very unlucky injury is keeping Sam Cordingly from that starting spot and Mortlock from the
captaincy. If Cordingly is out, let’s throw Under 21 star Josh Holmes in the
deep end. We’ve nothing to lose by finding out.

The fishwrappers are blathering about
playing Gitteau at half-back on the strength of a couple of old club games.
Rubbish. That’s the Matt Gitteau who hasn’t been sighted in two Test matches in
his favoured in-centre position.

There are more rockets to be fired and
problems to be solved, but we’re still travelling better than we were this far
out from the 2003 World Cup. Now we just have to change a few more players and
the way we play. Keep the faith.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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