Johannesburg - The injury-hit Wallabies are in such dire straits after their second
comprehensive defeat to New Zealand in as many weeks that there are now
serious concerns their No 2 world ranking is under threat.
Their second-rate status was confirmed by their inability to
score a point against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday night,
condemning them to a 10th straight doomed Bledisloe Cup campaign. Adding
to the embarrassment was that it was the first time in half a century
that a Wallabies line-up had finished pointless in a Bledisloe Cup
No wonder the Wallabies remained in shellshock on Sunday as
they made their way back across the ditch. They continued to push the
line that the All Blacks were so exceptional that no one would have
beaten them, with some in the Australian colours arguing it was New
Zealand's best Bledisloe Cup performance in the past decade.
That did not marry with the prevailing view in New Zealand, with the
local media far from effusive about the All Blacks' effort and insisting
they still had some way to go before being considered the finished
The conflict of opinion merely amplified the fact that the
Wallabies, admittedly labouring under a crippling injury toll, have
virtually become a team of cardboard cutouts, lacking in basic skills.
Again their kicking game was poor, again they were swamped in
the aerial battle, and again their attack never threatened. They have
also run out of ideas about how to subdue the All Blacks. So now their
main focus is on consolidating their position as next best behind the
Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore, who has always been a
straight-shooter, said it was now imperative the team regain their
composure, and win back the faith of their supporters during the rest of
the Rugby Championship.
''Without doubt the All Blacks are the No.1 side in the
world. And there's quite a way to us in second place,'' he said. ''The
challenge for us now is to try and maintain that spot against South
Africa and Argentina.''
For that to happen, the team has to develop character. It
also had to harden up off the field. ''It's a team game, so we all take
responsibility for what's going on, on and off the field,'' Moore said.
''Both of them go hand in hand. We need to make sure we carry ourselves
in the right manner off the field if we want to make sure we get our
performances right on the field. We all take accountability for our
actions. We are all old enough now to be able to do that.''
''There has been a concern that for some time within the
Wallabies camp that while several experienced hard heads continue to
provide the backbone, and put in the hard work, they have been let down
by several supposed team superstars, who are too inconsistent on the
field and too easily distracted off it.
But Wallabies coach Robbie Deans continues to defend them.
''I was proud with how our guys hung in because it was clearly a
dominant performance by the All Blacks,'' he said. ''To have only one
try scored against us was pretty remarkable. They are such a relentless
side. Whether they have or haven't got the ball, they're attacking you.
We tried narrow, we tried wide, they closed both. They are a very
experienced side, on top of their game. There's no let up. The shackles
Deans also warded off queries about his future. ''It's not
about me. It's about this group, the Wallabies, and what we do. It's
great to see the pride these blokes took in the way they approached
their work, and that will be important in going forward.''
The Wallabies will have a week off before assembling next
Sunday to travel to Perth for their next Test against South Africa on
September 8. None of their many injured players are scheduled to return.
Winger Drew Mitchell could again be sidelined for a lengthy period
after rolling his ankle in the first half and Quade Cooper will have a
scan on his knee today after receiving a knock during the Auckland Test.
Pat McCabe is expected to return against Argentina on September 15.