Beef Central doesn’t usually venture far beyond the beef supply chain in compiling its daily news reports, but when the chance arises to share the expertise of a reader who can offer insights into a major sporting encounter, we jump at the opportunity… here, Tim Horan talks to Beef Central about Bledisloe rugby
Australia hasn’t beaten its old foe New Zealand in a Bledisloe Cup series since 2002.
Much is made of Queensland’s seven year domination of NSW in Rugby League’s State of Origin, but the All Blacks supremacy over the Wallabies leaves even that stunning record in the shade.
If the Wallabies lose again this Saturday night, the Bledisloe black-out will extend to a decade of domination by New Zealand.
And given the position the Wallabies find themselves in going into this weekend’s do or die encounter, even the most one-eyed Wallabies supporter would concede the men in gold face a monumental task if they are to sidestep the indignity of losing10 Bledisloe series in a row.
The Wallabies enter the second game of the three-match series already one-nil down, after submissively surrendering a home-ground advantage in Sydney last week. They must win at Eden Park, the spiritual home of NZ rugby where Australia hasn’t tasted victory since 1986. And, they must find a way to win without a number of their on-field leaders, including injured captain David Pocock and out-of-sorts fullback Kurtley Beale.
It’s little wonder the bookies have them installed at the confidence-deflating odds of 7-1 to win the two-horse race – the longest-ever odds in Bledisloe Cup history!
One Beef Central reader who is taking a keen interest in the match is former Wallaby great and two-times Rugby World Cup winner Tim Horan, now a Fox Sports commentator and a business director with Westpac Bank.
Before he flew out to New Zealand to commentate on tomorrow night’s match, the Darling Downs raised product called Beef Central this morning to offer his thoughts on what the Wallabies have to do if they are to spring the mother of all surprises on an All Blacks side that is holding all the aces.
Turning around their physicality after being monstered by the All Black defence last weekend was an obvious starting point, he said.
“The All Blacks were like dogs at a butcher shop window when we were running at them, they were frothing at the mouth and couldn’t wait for us to run at them because the Wallabies just had too much slow ball,” he said.
He believes that even with the mercurial attacking skills of recalled playmaker Quade Cooper on board, the Aussies will still opt to play a kicking and field position game, and will look to put the ball in behind the All Blacks defensive line to make them play whenever slow ball is coming their way.
Weaknesses in the world champion All Blacks’ line up may be harder to find than genuine confidence in the Wallabies dressing room, but, from his expert eye, Tim Horan believes there are some ever-so slight chinks in the Kiwi armour that the Australians could exploit, if they are good enough.
“I think around the back of the scrum and around the ruck, Aaron Smith (the All Blacks No.9) is a wonderful player but there is an option there to unsettle him, and that then damages the rhythm of the All Blacks if you can break down the 9-10 channel.
“So there is an opportunity to pressure him, but that is going to come through the forwards counter rucking and the forwards putting a lot more pressure on the All Blacks forwards.”
In his 11 year career as a Wallaby from 1989-2000 – one of Australian rugby’s more successful eras in matches against the All Blacks – the former fly-half and centre played five tests against New Zealand at Eden Park for a zero-win record.
“It is a cauldron,” he said. “It is a really hard place to win, especially at night time, the crowd is right on top of you, and the All Blacks are spurred on by that.
“But in saying that it has to be broken at some stage, the Wallabies broke a 40 year losing record at Dunedin a few years ago, so it will happen at some point.”
Can it happen this weekend? Not according to the bookies or the headlines or just about anyone but the Wallabies themselves for that matter. But at odds of seven to one, there’ll no doubt be some willing to risk their hard earned cash that tomorrow night a hoodoo can be broken.
The second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland will be broadcast live on Channel Nine and Fox Sports tomorrow from 5:30pm.