For some reason this tour feels more of a benchmark for how the Wallabies have progressed than the tri-nations this year. From a results perspective, the only way we could have shown any improvement in the tri-nations was by letting in one less soft try in Brisbane and win the thing. But on this tour the Wallabies have the chance to improve the crappy away record that’s dogged them since the McQueen glory days ended.
There’s also the added personal incentive that I’m gonna be sat in the stands for a few of them and I could really do without another egg on the face of the sort that’s happened about 70% of the time I’ve been to games up here!
If you meet anyone talking of a clean sweep, tell him he’s dreaming. Between the injury list that grows every day, the lack of footy for six weeks and the two pastings we got away from home this year, this team isn’t in the position to pull off a mini grand slam.
The default should be a 50% success rate. Anything less than those 3 wins is a disaster and overall I reckon we should shooting to take 4 out of the 6 games on tour. And here’s how I reckon those four could unfold:
vs New Zealand (Honkers): A loss to kick off a big tour verges on the disastrous, and kiwis have shown they’re thinking this way by picking the A team. It sounds like Deans has worked the arse off the squad in training, so maybe we can weather the lack of match fitness, but what we can’t weather is the loss of Palu, Tuqiri, Elsom and Horwill. If Mortlock’s at 12 again it could get embarrassing. LOSS
vs Italy: I watched the Ities almost turn us over in Rome a couple of years ago and each year they only get better. I’m going to have us win this one as well, but could well get uncomfortable. No doubt Deans will also be looking at development players for this one to make it even trickier. WIN
vs England: Bloody hell. I’m going to pick us to do this one, but not with any real confidence. The new pommy coaching set up and team will still just be forming and the age old question of who at 10 will continue to plague them. We should also have Palu and Tuqiri back. However, the real test will be up front and I fear Sheridan could take Baxter without using his arms. A real potential nightmare. WIN
vs France: Stade de France hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us over the years and the frog coach, Marc Lievremont, will be aiming to avenge his side’s spanking down under earlier this year. The french have got the backline talent to be awesome when they want to, and I think they will this year. LOSS
vs Wales: We have a better record against the boyos and despite all the grand slam hype from last year, I’m not sure anyone is convinced by them. The Welsh form is also notorious for mirroring their peaks and valleys. I’m gonna say win, but if we’d also lost the Pommy game by now, wouldn’t be so sure. WIN
vs Barbarians:Looking at the side the shifty duo of White and Jones have put together, this is another massive banana skin . The list of axes to grind between those two and the Wallabies/ARU/SANZAR/cruel world in general goes on for a few sheets of A4 and should this Australia side be showing any trademark Wobblyness, they’ll pounce and not give a shit for how ugly it gets in the process. This will be another “development opportunity” as well. I’m picking a win, but only because it’s the BaaBaas for farks sake. WIN
Each time I look at it, like just now, this tour gets tougher. The only game I’d put my over-leveraged house on would be Italy, but it’s that sort of thinking that got us in this global financial meltdown in the first place. Fixing the global economy may be slightly easier than getting through this tour with a decent win rate. Over to you Robbie.