RIDE THIS WAVE Wallabies soak up their epic victory but know the job only gets tougher
IT was sunshine and cheer for the Wallabies yesterday after toppling the All Blacks but senior players were keeping their feet firmly on the Coogee Beach sand by declaring their job only one-third done.
With a Bledisloe Cup decider to be played this weekend in Hoodooville – aka Auckland – Michael Cheika’s men were keeping emotions in check, despite winning the Rugby Championship on Saturday night with a stirring victory over the Kiwis.
But half-smiles, at least, were forced out by the response the Wallabies got when they wandered down for a recovery swim at Coogee.
People out on Sunday strolls applauded the almost stunned Aussie players on to the beach, and then stretched out along the promenade to watch them bodysurf.
“That’s never happened to me at any level,” Wallabies flanker Scott Fardy laughed.
“It’s great to connect with the fans, and the crowd were magnificent last night too (at ANZ Stadium).”
It was a classic case of what a difference a win over New Zealand makes for the Wallabies and their fluctuating public standing.
The 27-19 victory was Australia’s first in 10 matches against the world No.1.
Fardy said the Wallabies were proud to have won a third trophy in as many games, and in the complex world of IRB world rankings, moved from fifth to third.
Fardy said the Bledisloe Cup was the big target and the job was not even half-done.
“We were very happy winning the Rugby Championship and getting three wins in a row,” Fardy said.
“But we know for the Australian people, they want the Bledisloe Cup. We are only halfway to the job. And probably, in saying that, we’ve probably only done 40 per cent of the job or 35 per cent, because Eden Park is such a tough place to get a win.”
It will be the first live Bledisloe Cup decider since 2008 but the Wallabies will go to Eden Park carrying a catalogue of historical obstacles longer than an army shopping list.
They haven’t won in Auckland since 1986, no one has beaten New Zealand at Eden Park in two decades and Australia have not won the Bledisloe Cup in 12 years.
But the pain most acutely felt – and serving the biggest warning against overconfidence – comes from last year when the Wallabies drew 12-all in Sydney and then got pumped 51-20 a week later in Auckland.
“You could say we have one hand on the cup but I don’t think we have one hand on the cup at all. We have to go to Eden Park, where they are a totally different beast, and win that to claim the Bledisloe Cup,” vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper said.
“Anyone who has had experience in Test match footy against the All Blacks, over there in New Zealand, knows how tough a challenge it is. They have 70,000-80,000 people in black jerseys who turn out to support them ... and they love playing at home.
“We are going to be playing over there on our own, basically alone, representing ourselves, our families and our country and we have to play better and be better than what we were last night.”
Wallabies teams have ridden the rollercoaster for years – good wins followed by dozy losses – but Cheika’s influence has emphasised staying “level”.
“You can’t wipe away 50 good things with one bad thing and likewise, you can’t win once in a long time and think you have done anything special,” Cheika said. “Consistency is king.”
All players sung firmly from the same sombre hymn sheet as their choir master, and Ashley-Cooper, who saw the Waratahs overcome around all sorts of hoodoos to win a Super Rugby title last year, said his coach was a potential circuitbreaker to the normal Eden Park experience.
“He is one guy who is a great leader. He is very, very passionate about what he does,” Ashley-Cooper said.