Wallabies must restore Australian pride

Collectively, the Australian rugby union and cricket teams have thus far this year played nine Test matches and won just one. By the end of Saturday's Tri-Nations rugby Test match against South Africa in Brisbane that may well read Played 10, Lost 9.

These are the kind of statistics that induce resignations from Prime Ministers, Government inquiries and abandonment of the Sheilas in the land down under. The only smiling face in Australia these days belongs to the bloke who just won the lottery. And there aren't too many of those around.



Australian rugby coach Robbie Deans celebrated his 50th birthday this week. Coming, as it did, sandwiched between last weekend's hiding at Perth by the world champion Springboks and this weekend's likely repeat performance at Brisbane's SunCorp stadium, it's safe to say the Australians probably didn't prepare a cake the size of Sydney Harbour to celebrate the event for their New Zealand chief.



It was all so different when Deans was expensively lured across the Tasman Sea early last year, to the angst of his fellow Kiwis who wanted him to replace Graham Henry as All Blacks coach and the cheers of the Australians, who always love to poke the Kiwis one in the eye. The Australian rugby union wore smiles as expensive as Cartier watches at what they saw as the steal of the century. Deans, went the whisper, could take the Wallabies to World Cup glory in 2011.



That was the theory. The reality was born out in a Brisbane press conference this week when an Australian media interrogator, the breed which gives piranhas a good name, asked a barbed question of Australian wing Lachie Turner. ‘Is it the coach's game plan that is all wrong or the players' failure to execute it properly' came the missile. Sensibly, Turner ducked.



"I don't think there is anything wrong with our game plan," he said. "The fact is that we have been so close over the entire series but haven't got the results because there have been little lapses of concentration. We've got the game plan to really take these games and wrestle them away from the opposition.



"We've just as a unit got to knuckle down and make sure we're concentrating and executing for the full 80 minutes. Once we start to do that, we'll be pretty hard to stop."



True, perhaps, but then as Ricky Ponting would testify, it all comes down to winning the big moments and Australian sportsmen seem to have lost that art of late.



For sure, if the rampaging South Africans, even without wing JP Pietersen through injury, fail to complete the deal in Brisbane tomorrow and clinch their first Tri-Nations title since 2004, it will be a major surprise. Not a calamity, however, for the Springboks have still to play New Zealand in Hamilton next week. Statistically, they need just a single point from either game to be sure of the title. Brisbane will surely be the setting for more Springbok success.



The South Africans have moved through world rugby this year like Hitler's Panzers through Poland, 70 years ago this week. Their overwhelmingly superior force and speed has swamped every opposition. Disregard the Lions 3rd Test; that was a South African 2nd XV. At their strongest, they are in a class of their own.



They have the world's most influential captain, the best second row pairing in world rugby, the best open-side, the best No. 8, the best half-back, the most reliable goal kicker, the most creative inside centre and the fastest, most dangerous wing in world rugby. Not too many weaknesses there, then.



They have spent much of this week talking up the Australians and their challenge. Can there ever have been a greater slight on the sports loving Aussies than an opposition trying to gee them up?



TEAMS:



Australia: J. O'Connor; L. Turner, A.Ashley-Cooper, B. Barnes, D. Mitchell; M. Giteau, W. Genia; B. Robinson, T. Polota-Nau, B. Alexander, J. Horwill, M. Chisholm, R. Elsom, D. Pocock, G. Smith (Capt.).



South Africa: R. Pienaar; O. Ndungane, J. Fourie, J.de Villiers, B. Habana; M. Steyn, F. Du Preez; T. Mtawarira, B.du Plessis, J.Smit (Capt.), B. Botha, V.Matfield, H. Brussow, J. Smith, P. Spies.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence