Sydney - Former All Blacks prop Richard Loe says the Wallabies will win only
one of their six Rugby Championship matches. The New Zealand media
reckons Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is on his last legs. And Wallabies
Test hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will only touch the Bledisloe Cup when it
is rightfully his.
With five days to go before the opening Bledisloe Cup match,
the inflammatory statements from either side of the Tasman have begun.
Loe went straight for the Wallabies' heart, using his column in The New Zealand Herald on Sunday to argue that Australia have no hope this year because of a
''horrible draw'' and predicted that ''they will be found wanting up
Nor is he impressed with the Wallabies' second row. ''Nathan
Sharpe isn't allowed to retire - it's like us selecting Gary Whetton
again - and the young guys they have picked, like Kane Douglas and
Sitaleki Timani, will soon be discovering the gap between Super Rugby
and Test rugby,'' he wrote.
Elsewhere, Deans was the target. One story began:
''Australian rugby is not in a great place. Robbie Deans is not in a
great place. Perhaps, the two need a break from each other - a voluntary
or forced separation.''At the Wallabies' camp in Coogee on Sunday, life was somewhat
jollier. But Polota-Nau had been reminded the size if the prize they
are chasing at ANZ Stadium on Saturday and how long it has been
since the team have had the Bledisloe Cup in their grasp. Nothing since
On Saturday, the cup was at Polota-Nau's Parramatta club ground at Granville, making a special appearance.
''I was standing in front of the cup and I had this shivering
feeling, which went right up my spine. From that moment, it just hit me
that I wanted to put my best foot forward, win it and be able to touch
it,'' Polota-Nau said on Sunday.
''I've never touched it. As much as I wanted to hold it on Saturday, I said to myself: 'Myself and my team-mates have to earn that
''It's a feeling of being that close but you're not quite
there. And that's what is driving me every day. Some of the Kiwi boys
who play for Parramatta were sledging me about this being as close as I
was going to get to touch the Bledisloe Cup. It's fair enough but that
also fired me up.
''Winning this would be the ultimate of our rugby career.
There's nothing better than beating the world champions and one which
has been so consistent for a whole decade to earn the right to hold
that. And we know we have to put an end to that.''
Wallabies centre Rob Horne was meanwhile preparing to
confront a different All Blacks attack, without Conrad Smith and maybe
with Sonny Bill Williams. Whether Williams plays in Sydney depends on
the result of negotiations between the New Zealand Rugby Union and the
Japanese club that signed the All Blacks centre, Panasonic Wild Knights.
Asked if he had an idea if Williams would be running at him on Saturday night, Horne said: ''Your guess is as good as mine.
''Generally a side will prepare for certain players and we
will continue doing that. You do your individual analysis and that
involves getting your head around that,'' he said on Sunday.