BLEDISLOE CUP II:
Rugby’s Burning Questions
Stuff.co.nz’s leading rugby scribes tackle the burning questions of the week Bledisloe II comes to the capital today.
Complete this sentence: After Sydney the Wallabies are …
MARC HINTON: At rock bottom. In a world of hurt. In danger of imploding their code ... Take your pick. Look, the Aussies are clearly in a shocking state, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming. Their Super Rugby effort was woeful, their players well off the mark and their offshore policy smacks of desperation. Plus, they’ve caught the ABs on the upward trend. Bad mix in a code in danger of being spat out the back end in Australia. It has to get much better, quickly. It mightn’t. RICHARD KNOWLER: In danger of making bozos of themselves unless they address the glitches that contributed to that poxy performance last weekend. Being embarrassed twice in the space of eight days cannot be an option for anyone in the Aussie camp.
HAMISH BIDWELL: Intellectually bankrupt. They spent a month preparing for that test − a game Cheika made an absolutely massive priority − and never fired a shot. Never mind the tackling, the most glaring thing about the Wallabies was the absence of attacking ideas. They’ve now pinned their offensive hopes on Quade Cooper. Good luck.
LIAM NAPIER: Anxious to right the wrongs. The Wallabies surely can’t be as bad as they were in Sydney. Being slated by home fans and their press should evoke a siege mentality of sorts, and at least some sort of passionate response. Can’t see that being enough, but they should be more competitive for 60-odd minutes.
Would another big All Black win actually be bad for the game, like people are saying?
Hinton: Don’t be ridiculous. That’s like saying the Chicago Bulls of the ‘90s were bad for the NBA. Or Barcelona of the last decade have been bad for European football. Winners set standards for others to aspire to. That’s what the All Blacks are doing now. They’re playing at an incredible level, and long may it continue. The onus is fairly and squarely on the chasers, like the Wallabies, to lift their game to compete.
Knowler: No. Can’t see the logic in such a statement. Team A strives for perfection. Teams B, C, D etc try and match them. If Team A gets to the pinnacle sooner, why is that bad for rugby? It just sets a standard. Bidwell: No. The All Blacks need a proper rival, that’s clear. But the day we get sick of sports teams striving for excellence − and often reaching it − is the day we should all shut up and go home.
Napier: Not really. Australia’s struggles aren’t reflective of test rugby as a whole. England showed in June they’re clearly a notch above them. Ideally our closest neighbour would provide better competition, as we play them more than anyone else, but the reality is there’s been many blowouts over the past 13 years of Bledisloe Cup dominance.
Should Kiwis stop booing Quade Cooper?
Hinton: I’m a big believer that fans have the right to make their own minds up about these things. But in this case I will say, please move on. It’s become tired. Plus the poor guy has been so bad for so long against the All Blacks, you almost feel sorry for him.
Knowler: Yep. It’s embarrassing. Can’t see the humour in it. Bidwell: Yep. It’s lame. Napier: I’m of the belief that punters pay good money to attend these tests and, essentially, have the right to behave how they like. If they cross the line, they’ll be thrown out. Who are we to tell them how to act? Booing may not be the most likeable trait, but I’ve got no sympathy for Cooper. His idiotic actions brought the attention on himself. Stuff
After Sydney the Wallabies are … Marc Hinton: At rock bottom. In a world of hurt. In danger of imploding their code ... Take your pick. Look, the Aussies are clearly in a shocking state, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika and skipper Stephen Moore ponder what went wrong in the fist test in Sydney last week.
All Black debutant Anton Lienert-Brown.