Marshall: More pressure now on the Wallabies

JUSTIN MARSHALL
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2013
Richie McCaw
Getty Images
SAME OLD: This was supposed to be the Bledisloe that sparked the Wallaby revival - but that wasn't how it turned out.

Relevant offers

Opinion

Johnstone: Talented SBW spreads himself too thin Snook: Taranaki's chance to prove themselves Reason: All Blacks believe as Wallabies grieve Mehrtens: Slade unlucky, but Carter call correct Protected Carter still Hansen's go-to guy Randell: Cruden mistake worse than thought? Reason: Tackle impact reaches dizzy heights Napier: Houdini All Blacks find a way out again Snook: Who wants to be the head coach? All Blacks get chance to add to Wallabies woe

OPINION: This was supposed to be the Bledisloe that sparked the Wallaby revival. Instead, after an emphatic All Black victory, all it's done is heap more pressure on Australian rugby.

The Wallabies had such a huge buildup and high expectations around how they were going to turn things round.

All we heard all week was how significant Ewen McKenzie was going to be and the difference he was going to make.

I know people in Australia had a problem with Robbie Deans but McKenzie was never going to change anything just by his presence. He still selects from the same pool of players Deans had to.

McKenzie's trump card was supposed to be his ability to "reinvigorate" his players and come up with a game-plan they could respond to.

I think maybe Robbie would have been sitting at home in his lounge in Mossman with a slight smirk on his face. It was naive to think getting rid of him would provide a simple solution.

New Zealand are a good dozen points better than Australia every time they hit the park, and it's going to take more than a coaching change to bridge that gap.

I've got nothing but praise for the way the All Blacks played. Even the odd error can be excused when you're playing at such intensity and pace you are blowing the other team away.

They were also pretty ruthless at converting pressure situations into points. The Wallabies just couldn't cope.

Australia showed an ability to break the line but it was all too rare. Often they were in full scramble mode and didn't deal with the pressure at all well.

McKenzie will be feeling that pressure today as he plots the rematch in just a few days' time. Some of his selections didn't provide the answers sought, and others just couldn't get into the game. What's his next move?

I was rapt to see Aaron Cruden play so very well given his previous experience in Sydney under similar circumstances.

He led the team round the field magnificently and had a great understanding with Aaron Smith who played close to his best test for the All Blacks.

The rest were in sync with those two guys. They all contributed, and they were all hungry.

But it would be remiss not to highlight the skipper's efforts. Richie McCaw was outstanding. I never doubted, with his heart, he'd get through fitness wise. It was just a matter of how his body coped.

No amount of running trains your body for someone coming like a missile to smash you into the ground, then six other blokes landing on top. Then you get up and do it again.

Ad Feedback

But not only did he survive, he thrived. Some of those early errors were just over-enthusiasm, and once he got on page with the referee he was as influential as ever. He looks like he's only going to get better too.

You could tell the sabbatical has worked well for him. He loves playing for the All Blacks and couldn't wait to get back into it. He looked hungry too, which is a great sign.

The All Blacks scrum was excellent, but I'm not convinced by the new laws.

I understand they took away the hit and distance between front rows to stop the folding in at impact. But there's still spinning and manipulating going on, and a lot of bumbled ball.

And hookers don't have a fair chance to hook the ball if referees are so vigilant on the feed.

The scrum is a restart, but demanding straight feeds just creates more restarts, with short-arm penalties, and then full penalties.

That doesn't solve anything. Instead of clearing up this area, it's made it even more clouded.

I tell you this: halfbacks would get a bollocking from their coach and front row if they put it right down the middle, because it's impossible to hook it that way.

Argentina is also a major worry after their humiliation at the hands of the Boks.

It wasn't good seeing the ease with which South Africa scored their tries. That's not what this Rugby Championship needs.

I've got real fears how they're going to fare, and how long they may last. They're on thin ice. They didn't win a game last year and everyone cut them slack because they were new. Now it looks like they've taken a step backwards.

We need competitiveness. They need to get up to speed, and quick. It's great to have them in the championship, but they've got to produce the rugby to validate being there.

Justin Marshall played 81 tests for the All Blacks, and is the chief rugby analyst for Sky Television.

- Fairfax Media

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

What have you made of the ITM Cup this season?

I'm loving it. I watch every game.

I always catch my province's games.

To be honest, I could take it or leave it.

It's been a real snore-fest this year.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content