I used to hate the Wallabies, especially in the late 80s and early 90s.
I used to hate Phil Kearns, Tim Horan and his mate Jason Little, Willie O, George Gregan, Mathew Burke, George Smith, Stephen Larkham – and don’t get me started on John bloody Eales.
I read his biography and at the end had a sense of respect and admiration for an Australian sportsman. I won’t do that again.
Laying it out on the table, I am a Kiwi who’s been living in Melbourne for the last 30 years. So, in the early days, seeing rugby on TV was a treat.
Even if we had to listen to Gordon Bray prattling on during commentary with things like, how when one of the Wallabies was at a posh high school his grandmother, who was a lacrosse champion from Wagga Wagga used to bake lamingtons for the team at half time. Or some such twaddle.
Seeing a Test live in Melbourne was like finding the lost Ark of the Covenant.
The Rebels arrived, so there was something to go to, however don’t get me started on them – that’s another whole article.
Back to the hate, I used to hate those guys and their teammates because they were tough, talented, uncompromising and were regularly beating the All Blacks.
Every Wallabies-All Blacks Test match would make you nervous in the days leading up to it, anticipating the challenge. Before the match you would find your spot, wait for the national anthems and then the Haka. After being suitably fired up after the Haka, you’d be feel ready to take on the world and settle in to watch.
Even though it was Gordon calling (every second word seemed to be “Larkham!”) there was sense of excitement and nervousness throughout the whole game.
If the Wallabies were winning the frustration would start. The yelling at the TV would commence and the smug looks from my mates and my wife would push me further to the edge. As a Wallabies win got closer, I would regress into shell wishing a meteorite would wipe out Gregan and his jabbering, or an errant seagull would hit one of Burkes or Eales kicks (especially that kick).
After the win I would sook for about a week.
If the AB’s were winning I would still be tense and frustrated. I would only feel comfortable of getting a win over the Wallabies if it was;
• 5 minutes to go
• All Blacks were 15 points up
• We had a foot on the Wallabies throat
• Had shot them three times with silver bullets
• Driven a stake through their heart so they were pinned to the ground – you never know when those bastards will get up.
George Gregan of the Wallabies – in better days for Australia. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
All those guys above and their teammates fell into that category. You could always rely on them to play a tough talented game. The hatred was based upon respect for them as fearsome opponents who would always give their lot.
It was; “Oh no, not these blokes again”.
This current lot fall well short. I can’t even begin to mildly dislike them. It’s all a bit “meh”.
They have a smug, “Oh well, bugger, we lost again” attitude, which annoys me.
I don’t know who half the players are, except for the usual big names.
I’m not sure what the backline is or how it works or which player is in which position.
It’s like they line up and Michael Cheika asks “who wants to play centre this week?” Hands go up and it’s “Okay we will try you; played there before? No? That’s okay, I think its jumper number 13, try it on.”
There seems no structure or continuity in their setup – it’s like a different team shows up each game.
I don’t mind Cheika’s histrionics or his passion but it seems to stay in the box and never gets transferred to the field.
The Wallabies do have some talented players and some who give it their all. I don’t mind Michael Hooper, but he is like an energiser bunny with batteries the wrong voltage. He is all over the place and not doing what he should.
Kurtley Beale is hot and cold. Israel Folau needs some help, he’s talented but has low rugby nous.
Bernard Foley is much maligned and I don’t think is that bad, but can’t seem to take that next step up.
I want the Wallabies to succeed; I want the hate to come back. I want them to start playing like their predecessors.
However, I can’t see it with this current setup. Bring is some new blood, guys like Jacks Maddocks and Tom English – at least get a team not the bunch of lost souls in the current arrangements.
If I see some heart and effort and results, I might even start cheering them on, until then – “meh”.
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