THE Wallabies brains trust could not have chosen a better former Test player to present the jerseys to the team in Auckland yesterday than Tony Shaw, who is uniquely qualified to remind them that all is not lost.
The Wallabies are considered no chance of keeping the Bledisloe Cup series alive tonight by winning at Eden Park – where they last won in 1986.
It is a dire situation, but much like 1978 when the inspirational Shaw was the Wallabies captain, and the team somehow overcame everything to win in Auckland with the highest score tallied against the All Blacks.
After losing the first two Tests, coach Daryl Haberecht had a heart attack and the players had to take control for the third and final Test, with a depleted squad.
”We just took over,” Shaw told the Wallabies at Eden Park yesterday. ”Bob Templeton was here and we could have brought him in to coach us. But we thought: ‘No, f— it, we know what’s wrong, and we know how to fix it.’ Everyone in New Zealand thought we had no hope. It’s pretty similar to now. We were copping heaps from the Kiwis, and the press. There was some of the ‘Awful Aussie, Woeful Wallabies’ carry on that was still around from the 1972 Wallabies tour. But after that second Test, we picked the same team and kept it like that for the last five games of the tour.”
Before that Test the players also visited someone who knew New Zealand rugby backwards – former All Blacks coach J.J. Stewart. ”He just said to us: ‘I’ll beat any one of you over 10 metres.’ We were scratching our heads, thinking, ‘Who is this silly old fart?’ He added: ‘When I say go, you have to take a step backwards.’ The analogy was very clear to us. That was what we were doing to our backs. We weren’t winning ball going forward. We were on the back foot and were back pedalling before we started. It was like a light bulb had just gone on in our scones.
”So on the day, we knew we had to take it to them – demolish the lineout, [Wallabies prop] [Chris] ‘Buddha’ Handy was commissioned with the job of belting [All Blacks second rower] Andy Haden, which he reckoned he needed a step ladder to do, but he did it. Greg Cornelsen scores four tries and the rest is history. A 30-16 win.”
Shaw said there were so many comparisons between 1978 and tonight. ”This team has also been written off. They’re two skippers down and there’s lots of injuries. They know what they have to do – they just have to do it on the paddock.”
Quade Cooper is the key, he said. ”This is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful opportunity for Quade to shine, and get rid of the demons. And he will. I reckon he will be the difference … he’s matured enormously from last year.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.