Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Wallabies still have catching up to do

Israel Folau. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau. Photo / Getty Images

It's understandable that, for a lot of people, last night's Super Rugby final was being viewed as a kind of unofficial third Bledisloe Cup test.

It was hard not to let the mind fast-forward two weeks as many of the same players will be back at the same ground wearing Wallaby and All Black jerseys.

I'm not sure, though, whether we can read too much into the Super Rugby final as an indicator of what we will see on August 16. Put it this way - I said before the final that the Waratahs had more chance of winning that than the Wallabies do of beating the All Blacks.

There's no doubt Australian rugby is in a better place than it was 12 months ago. The Wallabies have been undefeated since they lost to the All Blacks in Dunedin last October and they went well against France in June.

But I look at the strengths of the Waratahs and, by extension the Wallabies, and I'm not sure they can be fully confident of utilising their best players in the big games.

Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau have been superb for the Waratahs - when they are given space to run, they are deadly. It's all about them being given space, though.

The All Blacks are a lot like the Crusaders. They will look to nullify opponents by not letting them play rugby. They will put the pressure on at set-piece time and around the breakdown.

I look at the likely packs of both teams for the Bledisloe Cup and feel the All Blacks have got superior players everywhere except hooker. I have been taken with the way Tatafu Polota-Nau has played and he brings abrasive qualities the Wallabies will need.

Their locks are OK and they have good individuals in their loose trio. But the big difference is the All Blacks work so effectively as a unit and in their smaller units.

Take the loose trio. Kieran Read, Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino have played a lot of rugby together and are hugely experienced as individuals.

They will work together, understand what has to be done and how to do it and that makes them tough to play against. You would say that, if they can play an average to good game, they will be better than 99 per cent of loose forwards in the world and that makes them so tough to play against.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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