Former Australian winger Clyde Rathbone says the Wallabies are delusional if they think they can beat the All Blacks this weekend.
In a column written for Australian rugby's official website, Rathbone avoided any spin and wrote it as he saw it in tipping Australia's Bledisloe Cup heartache will continue in Wellington tomorrow night.
"From Muhammad Ali to Conor McGregor absolute self-confidence appears a prerequisite to every great sporting achievement. But for every Ali and McGregor there are countless athletes for whom blind faith in one's ability is a slippery slope to delusion," said the former South African-born Brumbies flyer who accumulated 26 caps for Australia.
"The Wallabies were confident going into the first Bledisloe. Since coming together four weeks ago they have sunk litres of sweat into training fields and chalked up endless kilometres pounding dreaded hill sprints in Sydney. In the interim they talked themselves into the much vaunted 'winning mindset'.
"Forty-two points later reality came crashing home in the form of a record loss to the All Blacks. The truth is pitiless, indifferent to all but the purity of its own self evidence. And the truth is that the All Blacks are a much better team than the Wallabies."
Rathbone said Australian rugby fans had to accept that reality and readjust their expectations as to "what should be considered a reasonable outcome in matches against the All Blacks".
"A simple way to think about this is to ask how many of our lot might reasonably be expected to appear in a combined ANZAC team. For mine it's hard to make a case beyond (David) Pocock and (Israel) Folau. That leaves thirteen positions (not including the bench) in which the men in black have us covered for quality."
Rathbone said the Wallabies need a dose of reality.
"In the aftermath of Saturday's performance we're getting an insight into just how powerful this kind of thinking can be. Nobody within the Wallabies ranks has come out and spoken plainly about our chances. What I would give for the coach or player who when addressing the media let rip with this kind of unprecedented truth bomb," he wrote.
"Look, we're almost certainly not going to win on Saturday. The last time we won in New Zealand was back in 2001 and our home record against the All Blacks isn't great either.
They are one of the greatest sporting teams in History so we've got to play at our best and hope they have an off night if we're going to steal a win. That's the reality but we're up for the challenge"
"I think confirmation bias is part of the reason we almost never see this kind of honesty from athletes or coaches. When winners win we hear about their unwavering belief and confidence at the very moment they're atop the podium - the same moment the media absorbs and broadcasts every word they say. This has led to a glorification of self confidence. In truth it is possible to perform at the highest level without believing anything that isn't connected to evidence. In fact there is a rare kind of liberation that comes with accepting the truth warts and all.
"With the scoreboard the sole arbiter of success the Wallabies are likely to fail this Saturday. But they need concern themselves only with their ability to give everything they have to beat the odds. It is that simple."