There’s a pretty funny cover on the current
edition of the Alpha sport lads mag. “WALLABIES ATTACK!” shouts the headline
over a strapper “Gerrard, Tuqiri and Mortlock: We’re Free to Run Wild” with
pictures of the three Wallabies looking various shades of naff.
We wish. Gerrard looks the strangest of the
three – apparently screaming and pulling his hair out. Maybe that’s
he’s been dropped to the bench for Saturday afternoon’s test. As
know, there’s been little sign of wild attacking rugby in three of
four outings. The All Blacks were simply too good to let them, while
against South Africa two weeks ago the Wallabies were simply too bad
The odds of it being turned around tomorrow
in Auckland? Not good. As everyone’s been reminded, it’s 20 years since the
Wallabies last won at Eden Park – seven straight losses there since then. And it’s five years since
we’ve beaten the All Blacks anywhere in New Zealand.
The big problem with the Alpha cover is
that it perpetuates the damaging myth that Australia
possesses magical backs who can manufacture a win with less than half the ball.
Against second-string opposition that might be true, but against the world’s
best team our shortcomings have to be acknowledged and circumvented.
The Kiwi backs all seem to be a couple of
metres faster than their Australian opponents. And so do their forwards. That
pretty much rules out successful long-distance attack. Yes, we do have to toil
for field position.
It also means the enemy regroup and repair
their defensive line extremely quickly. And that means all ruck and maul ball
is too slow. It means the ball has to be unloaded at the point of contact –
slipped out of the tackle or at least popped off the deck before a ruck forms.
It means the Wallabies have to start trying to play the way the All Blacks have
been since the last World Cup.
Most importantly though, we have to have a
go. Then, rugby at this level being the mental game it is, the possibility and
hope is always there, even if the odds are not.