Cape Town - A New Zealand scribe has questioned the legitimacy of the official World Rugby rankings.
Tony Smith, a columnist for the Stuff website, finds it particularly strange that Australia are ranked as high as No 3 in the world.
The Wallabies' recent 37-20 win over Argentina in Mendoza - and subsequent second finishing spot in the Rugby Championship - saw them climb above Ireland and South Africa into third in the rankings.
Smith expressed his views via a column, saying World Rugby’s current rankings raise more questions than answers.
“Can World Rugby's rankings be taken seriously if the Wallabies are rated the third-best team in the rugby universe? Does anyone outside Michael Cheika's living room believe the Wallabies are a better side than Ireland?” Smith wrote.
“Don't forget that the ‘third-best rugby nation in the world’ had to drop a Super Rugby team because the Australian talent pool was shallower than an outback waterhole after decades of drought.”
The Wallabies finished a point ahead of the Springboks in the Rugby Championship, but sit two spots above them in the rankings.
“It's hardly fair to allow Australia to leapfrog Ireland, who haven't played at full-strength since the end of the Six Nations tournament in March. By the same token, how can Australia be ranked two places higher than South Africa after drawing twice with the Springboks in the Rugby Championship?” Smith questioned.
The Wallabies are on 85.59 points, after a gain of 0.93 of a point, two-tenths more than Ireland and a fraction over half a point more than the Springboks.
New Zealand, meanwhile, marginally increased their cushion at the top of the rankings.
The All Blacks’ one point win saw them earn 0.31 of a rating point and boost their overall tally to 95.52, giving them a 5.38-point advantage over England.
Los Pumas stay in 10th place, but with only a 3.14 point cushion over nearest rivals Japan.
Top 20 in latest World Rugby standings:
1. New Zealand 95.52
2. England 90.14
3. Australia 85.59
4. Ireland 85.39
5. South Africa 85.03
6. Scotland 82.47
7. Wales 81.73
8. France 79.63
9. Fiji 79.48
10. Argentina 76.93
11. Japan 73.79
12. Georgia 73.41
13. Tonga 71.72
14. Italy 71.00
15. Romania 70.27
16. Samoa 69.67
17. USA 65.84
18. Uruguay 63.15
19. Spain 63.15
20. Russia 63.13
CLICK HERE to read Tony Smith's full column on the Stuff.co.nz website