If the Wallabies beat England all will be forgiven
OPINION: Bring it in tight, you b*******.
Come into the corner of the Twickenham dressing room, and I would like everyone else to leave: all the baggage handlers, medical staff, analysts, statisticians, the lot of yers . . . yes, all 56 of you.
Now, as you know, Michael Cheika has asked me to have a few words to you before your match against England. Why me? Because he is so carpet-biting mad, so pumped up, he can't quite trust himself not to throw a chair across the room, punch a hole in the wall, head-butt a locker, before going to give the referee a good piece of his mind, just to start early.
So where is he instead?
* Foley seeks revenge v England
* Wallabies flanker Mumm sidesteps ban
* Cheika bites back at Jones' ribbing
* Wallabies - 'kings of Australia'?
* Kuridrani on fire
* Eddie Jones stirs up Wallabies
Well, you'll never believe this, but he's gone to have a shave. Wants to be looking his best for the after-match press conference, as he STICKS IT RIGHT UP the English rugby media. So he's asked me to have a word, meantime. I speak not on the part of team management, as I certainly don't have the first clue on tactics and all the rest, but on behalf of the Australian rugby community, to give you some reckoning of our overall feelings as we approach this game. You need to have some reckoning of what victory would mean to us – and defeat.
Ahem. You've had, and we all know it, a STINKER of a start to the year with the six losses, including three to England, followed by the usual losses to the All Blacks.
But, the good news?
Cheika was right.
There really have been wonderful signs of a renaissance, with some great wins over the Argies and Boks, particularly. (Mind you, every bastard beats the Boks these days, so a little of the shine has gone off that.) And you have had a strong spring tour so far, sweeping nearly all before you, bar Ireland.
But, right now, you can forget all that, all the trials and tribulations, all the narrow losses and great wins. Because when they write the story of 2016, we want this to be the standout, the one everyone remembers.
For, all will be forgiven if you can just win this one match. Not a narrow victory like the ones over Scotland and France. And certainly not a very narrow loss like the one against Ireland last Saturday.
Listen, I really do speak on behalf of the Australian rugby public here.
We want a pantsing!
We want a pasting!
We want a flogging, like a convict caught with the Governor's wife.
We want you to whip them to within an inch of their lives, and then two inches!
Why, so particularly?
Let me count the ways.
1. It's England. The joy in beating them is just in our bones.
2. It's a rampant England, that have swept all before them for the past year, notching up, like, the last dozen Tests straight. This, as you know, is against nature. As the buds bloom in spring, and the leaves fall in autumn, so too must the blooming of English rugby wither and die. If not at your hands, then whose? If not now, when?
3. It's a team coached by Eddie Jones, who won't shut the hell up. Yes, he is one of ours – whatever he says, whatever he pretends – and yes, truly, Australian rugby can be proud of his international success. But, now, what we must yearn for is to see that perpetually crinkled right eyebrow of his – always bemused, always questioning that anyone that everyone could not be in full agreement with what he says all the time – to be joined by his left eyebrow, too. We want to see a stunned expression on his face, two eyebrows, looking like two hairy Harbour Bridges side by side, as he wonders WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?
4. Australian rugby needs it. These are grim times, in some ways never grimmer. With the exception of this time last year when you bloody beauties made your all the way to the Rugby World Cup final, the Australian game has been in the doldrums. We need you to finish the year with a fantastic victory, to give us all hope for next year that the corner has finally been turned.
Good luck. No mercy. No prisoners. Remember look to Eddie's eyebrows, if there's a pause in play and the camera flashes his image from the coach's box onto the big screen. Hairy Harbour Bridges! Oh my, Gawd, how is this happening????
Now get out there and get 'em.