Wallabies not guaranteed of success

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iol spt aug3 Waratahs joy Getty Images Fans will be hoping that the Waratahs superlative Super Rugby season will translate into success in the Test arena for the Wallabies. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Sydney - Wallabies fans will be hoping that Australia's superlative Super Rugby season, capped by a maiden title for the New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday, will be a springboard to further success in the test arena this year.

And international success for Australian rugby outside the World Cup is measured in only one way - victories over New Zealand and the return of the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

It is a tempting leap of logic. A Waratahs side packed with Wallabies pips an All Blacks-laden Canterbury Crusaders to win a maiden provincial title at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

Therefore, goes the thinking, Australia should have the edge in the opening match of the Rugby Championship at the same arena in two weeks' time.

It sort of worked in 2011 when the Queensland Reds beat the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final in Brisbane and the Wallabies returned to Lang Park to prevail 25-20 in one of their two Tri-Nations tests against New Zealand that year.

It was not enough to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, however, and in the World Cup semi-finals a couple of months later the All Blacks put Australia firmly back in their box with a 20-6 victory on their way to claiming the Webb Ellis Trophy.

The Brisbane win remains the last time Australia beat the All Blacks, although they did earn an 18-18 draw at the same ground in 2012 to prevent New Zealand from claiming the record for most consecutive victories by a tier one nation.

The Wallabies will certainly be in better condition than the hotchpotch outfit injuries forced Robbie Deans to put out that day when they again try to stop the All Blacks snaring that record 18th win in Sydney on August 16.

And there is little doubt that the likes of flyhalf Bernard Foley, who kicked the last-gasp winner on Saturday, and centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, who scored a brace of tries in the final, will have more self-belief when they pull on the gold jersey.

“It'll have a huge impact on that game, I believe,” former Wallaby and Waratah Phil Waugh told Fox Sports TV on Sunday.

“Psychologically, when you look at the number of Wallabies and number of All Blacks playing in that game at the (Olympic Stadium) and you've got Bledisloe match there in two weeks' time.”

Waugh may have changed his mind had he seen the expression on Kieran Read's face when the Crusaders captain and All Blacks number eight was asked about the potential impact of Saturday's final.

“I'm sure you guys will make a big deal out of that, you probably already have,” he scoffed.

“It's two completely different teams ... “

Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper, who will also captain the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, has always been careful to draw the distinction between test and provincial rugby when asked about the intensity of the Super Rugby playoff matches.

He, too, was not about to start drawing too much from the Super Rugby triumph.

“Two weeks in rugby is a long time,” he laughed. “To have done it with this bunch of guys is fantastic.

“A few of those will be transferring to the test season but that's a way off.”

One definite ramification of Saturday's match could be the absence from the All Blacks team of flyhalf Dan Carter, who hurt his thigh and had to leave the field after half an hour.

“He tried to run it off but it didn't work but at least he had a crack, he's pretty sore,” said Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder. – Reuters


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