Kiwi 'killer instinct' to inflict further misery on Deans' Aussies
The unrelenting, searing standards of self-examination that have always been as fundamental to the New Zealand All Blacks as safety certificates to ships at sea, were opened up for public inspec-tion in Christchurch this week.
As New Zealand rugby stands poised to again ascend the summit of the world game -- with the Tri Nations title and Bledisloe Cup set to renew acquaintance with their trophy cabinet -- backs coach Wayne Smith offered a fascinating peep into the psyche that informs these relentlessly driven rugby men of the southern hemisphere.
"The South Africans were going to be too good for us again (this year), too big, too athletic," he said, with just a hint of smugness.
"But you have to stay on top of the trends in the game. And we did pretty well during the Super 14 to have plans that are continuing to grow. But every game is its own entity and anything can happen. What went before is irrelevant.
"Three losses to the Springboks (in the 2009 Tri Nations) didn't scar us. We developed. Past successes guarantee nothing and there is this massive expectation all the time. So, you have just got to keep work-ing at it, try and keep an edge, build up every game like it's the last one."
This message had a hidden meaning for both the ailing South Africans, currently sitting at home licking their wounds after losing all three games on their Tri-Nations tour this year, and the Australians. The latter face a Herculean task in attempting to stifle the All Black attacking machine, currently purring as perfectly as a Porsche, in Christchurch tomorrow.
Beaten by the All Blacks seven days ago in Melbourne, Robbie Deans' Wallabies face the nightmare statistic of a ninth successive loss to their closest and bitterest enemy if they fail to turn the tide at the AMI stadium.
Deans has juggled his side, giving starting places to the Faingaa brothers and recalling Kurtley Beale at full-back. But the Wallabies look a squad under heavy pressure and unhappy with where they currently stand.
There is no doubt that New Zealand once again boast what Smith called "killer instinct," but for the beleaguered Australians, such a quality remains merely a pipe dream at present.
Their old nemesis is once more strutting the world stage with imperious authority and presence. It would be an astonishing outcome if that were to change tomorrow on New Zealand's south island.
NEW ZEALAND -- M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Rokocoko; D Carter, P Weepu; A Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Thorn, T Donnelly, J Kaino, R McCaw (Capt.), K Read.
AUSTRALIA -- K Beale; J O'Connor, A Ashley-Cooper, A Faingaa, D Mitchell; M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, S Faingaa, S Ma'afu, R Simmons, N Share, R Elsom, D Pocock, R Brown.
Ref -- J Kaplan (South Africa)
New Zealand v Australia,
Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 2, 8.35am