Hey, Wallabies, Bledisloe II even more brutal

Aug 23, 2017

In hammering Australia 54-34 in the Bledisloe Cup opener, it’s obvious the All Blacks were desperate to relieve their frustrations from the drawn British & Irish Lions series.

I watched the first half almost in disbelief; the All Blacks were playing some outstanding rugby. They looked really good and I was really pleased to see the likes of Liam Squire show that he belongs in that No.6 jersey. Aaron Smith’s passes, meanwhile, were brilliant and Ryan Crotty was the glue in the midfield. And, of course, there was Brodie Retallick being the beast that he is.

But from the other side, I was almost shocked to see how bad the Australians were. The All Blacks were breaking their line at will. The Wallabies were falling off tackles; it was embarrassing. By halftime it looked as if it was going to be a blow-out.

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I have no doubt there will have been some seriously stern words said inside the Australian shed at halftime, as you would expect, and they certainly turned things around in the second half. It also proved the Wallabies got their midfield selection wrong to start with. When Tevita Kuridrani came on he really shored up the midfield defence and the All Blacks weren’t able to break the line as often as they did in the first half.

Some of the reserves who came off the bench for the Australians proved they should have been starting in the first place. But it was all a bit too late.

Coming away from Saturday night’s Test, as a New Zealander, it was hard to look past the 28 points the All Blacks conceded in the second half. I thought it must have been some sort of record.

There was obviously a healthy cushion with the scoreline the way it was, but I think the All Blacks should be seriously disappointed about conceding that many points. In the past, New Zealand’s reserves always added something when coming off the bench. But they did themselves no justice at all by being part of what happened in the second half in Sydney.

Tevita Kuridrani dives over for a try in Bledisloe I SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

One thing that was disappointing about the Test was the effort by the Australian newspapers to try to tarnish the All Blacks’ image in the same week as a Bledisloe Test match. If their stories were meant to affect the All Blacks, it clearly didn’t work; you only have to look at the scoreboard at halftime.

The All Blacks are no different to any other level of society; if you make mistakes, you pay for those mistakes. You let the other players in the team down, and that is life. If you can’t expect that mistakes will be made you are deluded.

Aaron Smith and Jerome Kaino have to deal with their situations. Have these incidents tarnished the brand? I don’t think so. In six months’ time, if not before, the All Blacks’ brand will be as strong as ever.

Even after a victory like that, the All Blacks will have come away with plenty of work-ons and areas for improvement. That spells bad news for the Wallabies in Dunedin where I’m sure they will get much more of the same and probably a little bit more given the passing of Sir Colin Meads. He is one of New Zealand’s heroes and a great icons of All Blacks rugby.

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I was never lucky enough to watch Colin Meads play, I was about two-and-a-half when he finished, but I heard all the stories about what a fantastic player he was. I got to know him as the character and the man, especially having a bit to do with him in 1995 when he was the manager of the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup.

Meads just had huge mana about him and he spoke with a slow, bellowing voice that just made so much sense every time he opened his mouth. He was a very wise man; very calm, cool and collected. When he walked into a room everyone took notice.

One of my fondest memories was in the lead-up to the 1995 World Cup when we had a series of camps. The first one we had was in Queenstown, which was more about team-building and doing stuff together in the offseason to get on with each other a bit.

We did some whitewater rafting and we were told that if we did capsize we were to just drift down the river and move to the side and get on the bank. Colin and Verna, his wife, were in a raft that capsized. Verna was stuck, hanging onto a rock, and Colin was a bit further downstream. When he saw what had happened, he started going up the river, his legs striding forward, almost changing the current of the river to go and save his wife.

We were all watching and my wife was with me; when Meads got to her and saved her, you could see he loved her very much. When all the dust had settled my wife Tania turned around and said to me: “So what would you have done?”

Colin Meads (C) looks for an offload during a Test against England S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

And I just said: “Just drift down the river and onto the bank and do what we were told to do”. My answer didn’t win me any brownie points but that showed how Colin was his own man and he knew what he was capable of, even at the age he was then, probably about 60.

There were a lot of other times, including the one that everyone has talked about in France in 1995 when he basically told the management to get out of the meeting room when we were having a meeting after losing the first Test to France. He gave us an absolute bullocking and pointed out that while in his day as players they didn’t have half the benefits the players had in 1995, they were never scared like he had seen on the field against France a day or two earlier.

As a result of what Meads said there was never any way we were going to lose the second Test because we were more scared of facing him after another defeat.

When he spoke, people took notice.

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/20411078/beware-wallabies-bledisloe-ii-far-more-brutal
Hey, Wallabies, Bledisloe II even more brutal
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