Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at Hamish McLennan, David Campese firing shots at New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks, How the Wallabies look to break the Eden Park hoodoo and a pair of signings for the proactive Force.
RA CEO Hamish McLennan believes that the positive showing from the Wallabies proves that they can hang with their Kiwi counterparts on a domestic and international level.
With the NZR looking down on Super Rugby Australia with their ‘expression of interest’ jibe, this was thrown right back in their face last Sunday when the Wallabies arguably outperformed the All Blacks.
McLennan was proud of the performance that they put, telling rugby.com.au that it has vindicated their position to not cave to their demands.
“This is the first step in a four-year journey to France, but it proves that we are competitive against one of the world’s best teams,” McLennan told RUGBY.com.au.
“I was really pleased that our guys showed courage and tenacity.
“From day one we’ve defended our players, and this proves how flawed New Zealand’s thinking was and it’s a joke.
“We feel completely vindicated on all counts, and we were right.”
McLennan pointed to the buzz that has returned to the sport, the Wallabies and the Bledisloe Cup as proof that rugby was starting its resurgence.
“There is a resurgence and it’s happening now,” he said.
“Dave is brilliant and most importantly he reflects humble, hard-working attitudes which is what rugby’s all about.
“This is the point to rugby; it’s the only major winter sport where you barrack for your country with passion,
“The Wallaby jersey is iconic and rugby in Australia is not going away.
“It’s (the Bledisloe Cup) creating the buzz. The team reflected the diversity that we in Australia have, which is terrific, and the players were tenacious and as a country, that’s what we should be known for, and they did us proud on Sunday.”
Breaking the hoodoo
Wallabies halfback Nic White has emphasised the importance of focusing on their own gameplan and reactions as they look to break a 34-year hoodoo at Eden Park against the All Blacks on Sunday.
Whilst there were a lot of positives to come out of the match, White admitted that they were disappointed with their inability to close out the game, conceding that they let the win slip through their hands.
“A little bit disappointed was the initial reaction after the game,” he told reporters.
“We had opportunities there to finish that game and it would have been nice but at the same time, there’s a bit of confidence knowing that we are heading in the right direction.
“There’s a fair bit for us to clean up heading into this game so there are a lot of areas to improve on but there is a fair bit of belief in that what we are doing is the right stuff.”
The job now becomes significantly harder for Dave Rennie’s side, with the second test heading to Eden Park, where the Wallabies have not tasted victory since 1986.
Whilst White was adamant that the All Blacks would come back strong, they were focused on their own reaction from the draw, rejecting claims that they would be drawn into a false sense of security like last year.
“The All Blacks have always reacted after a performance that they don’t feel like was very well but we’re talking about our reaction this week,” he said.
“I think this is a new group and we are trying to talk about the reaction we want to get out of the game on the weekend that we feel like we should’ve taken a result.
“We know a lot of the commentary will be about what they are going to bring this week so we’ve got to make it about us and what we can bring.”
Campo fires shots
Wallabies legend David Campese has launched into the All Blacks, claiming that their once fearsome aura is long gone.
With the NZ’s undergoing a major transformation at the playing, coaching and board level, Campo believes that this has caused NZ to become arrogant and complacent.
“Everything happens off the field before it happens on the field,” Campese told Stuff on Monday.
“They came out [NZ Rugby] and have been so arrogant [about Super Rugby], and I’m sitting there thinking ‘you know guys, you’re going to fall on your sword very soon’, and it’s starting to happen now.
“That All Black is aura is gone. The younger guys are not composed, they’re not the same.
“I’m sorry but [Ian] Foster…I don’t think he’s going to last.
“If you [NZ Rugby] were confident, why wouldn’t they give him a four-year contract?”
He believes that the All Blacks are not the same side without the likes of Kieran Read, along with questioning their approach to the Super Rugby discussions.
“You take Australia away and New Zealand wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are,” Campese said.
“They’re lucky we’ve played against them year in, year out. We’ve helped them as well.
“Unfortunately over the last couple of years we had a lot of problems off the field, which is why we were s*** on the field.”
“[But] I watched the game and the All Blacks have lost something. They didn’t have that composure, and they panicked a bit, which they normally don’t do.
“Kieran Read not being there. He was big loss.”
Couple that with a Wallabies side no longer ‘afraid’ of the All Blacks, and ‘Campo’ gives them a major chance of breaking the Eden Park hoodoo.
“I think they can back it up,” Campese said.
“Harry Wilson, he’s played against New Zealand at under 20’s and beat the All Blacks.
“He’s beaten them. In ‘82 we played New Zealand under 21s in Sydney and beat them by a massive score
“We came through a system where we head beat their junior teams, so the senior teams thought ‘who cares?”
Ready to go
The Force continue to re-sign the bulk of their squad from 2020, with forwards Chris Heiberg and Andrew Ready signing contract extensions with the club.
The former Red Ready has signed a two-year deal, while South African veteran Heiberg putting pen to paper on a one-year contract.
Heiberg was pleased to stay in his ‘home’, thanking the Force for allowing to continue playing in Perth.
“WA is very much my home. I have been here for quite some time and have really grown to love it here and made some incredible friends and memories in this state,” Heiberg explained in a statement.
“Being with the Force over the years has been such a unique journey, but one that I have been able to share with some of my best friends, which makes it so special. We are such a close group and through everything, we have become closer.
“I’m so grateful to Sambo (head coach Tim Sampson) and Hodgo (head of rugby Matt Hodgson) for showing faith in me and keeping me here for another year.
“I can’t wait to continue playing in front of our passionate fans. Our supporters are really something special and it’s so good to know we have their support.”
With Ready emerging as one of the Force’s best during the Super Rugby Australia tournament, he is excited to push himself against new recruit and Argentian international Julian Montoya.
“This year was massive for us being back in Super Rugby and for me personally getting another taste of it,” Ready said.
“I’m really excited about the experience the club is bringing in from around the world into the squad. To be able to learn from those players is going to be awesome.
“Having Julian Montoya come to the club is also exciting for me, I want to be able to push myself to higher honours within Australian rugby, so hopefully we can push each other to improve our games.
“It means a lot to see us building something special. There’s a lot of care here within the Force culture. We are a family, everyone’s respected no matter what your experience.”