Auckland: Beers in the dressing rooms and well wishes from Steve Hansen. Is a thawing in trans-Tasman rugby relations under way?
The Wallabies spent 20 minutes chewing the fat with the All Blacks in the hosts sheds after the 36-0 loss at Eden Park on Saturday night.
And their coach not only said he thought Australia were capable of winning the World Cup in Japan next month, he told the post-match television broadcast that if the All Blacks failed to hoist an unprecedented third consecutive Webb Ellis Cup he hoped Australia would.
“Whilst we have some fierce battles and so forth, we do enjoy them, theyre good men and theyre very similar to ourselves,” Hansen said. “So if we cant win it wed like them to.”
Say what? Perhaps it was all too easy in the afterglow of an Eden Park bloodbath, the Wallabies cut down to size and then some after their spirited win in Perth a week earlier.
Or maybe Hansen thought enough was enough after his infamous Mickey Mouse quip stretched an already tenuous relationship between the camps, or their leaders at least.
There were certainly hints of a renewed respect between the playing groups after the battles of the past two weeks.
Australia, after three years of mostly poor Bledisloe Cup performances played their best rugby in years in Perth and, notwithstanding the imbalance caused by Scott Barretts red card, had the measure of New Zealand in attitude.
Retribution was swift in the return fixture. As halfback Aaron Smith said after the game: “The emotion came out in every tackle, the boys were flying in – well I wasnt but the big boys were. We werent going to die wondering.”
Smith confirmed what many knew was happening last week. Every New Zealand player in that squad of 23 spent the week stewing in juices of humiliation and embarrassment.
The Wallabies came in, they were really good sports … It was good to nurture that relationship.
“It was a long Sunday, it was a long week to be honest,” Smith said.
“You just remember how you felt on Saturday night and before you went to sleep every night you thought this is not going to happen again. I know that drove me all week to do all the little things, get good sleep, drink lots of water, stretch.
“Also there were other drivers too, I really wanted to put a performance iRead More – Source