Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Hansen will keep the heat on

Tevita Kuridrani dejected
Australia v New Zealand All Blacks. Rugby Union. First Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship match of 2016. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. Saturday 20 August 2016. ©
Tevita Kuridrani dejected Australia v New Zealand All Blacks. Rugby Union. First Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship match of 2016. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. Saturday 20 August 2016. ©

There's no way back for the Wallabies. Not on the evidence of their uncertain production in Sydney or the changes for tonight at the Cake Tin.

They should improve because the Bledisloe baseline they set a week ago was average for an international side. A range of factors will push them towards a better showing; elements such as guilt, repeat opportunity, embarrassment, job security and pride in the jersey.

It won't be good enough, even if the weather turns doggo, the All Blacks are off their game and the match officials have a shocker.

The Wallabies are not in the same territory as the All Blacks, which is a continued reflection of Super Rugby results and the ongoing push for improvement from Steve Hansen.

The only blot in Sydney was the fumbling display from NZR boss Steve Tew who, alongside the equally tremulous Bill Pulver, felt it best if Spygate was left under the cushion.

They wanted it to disappear until Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul revealed their secret.

Hansen, judging by the tone of his comments after the test, wanted more done and felt impeded. He won't want that repeat feeling tonight.

His messages will be crisp and thorough to each individual. He'll eyeball them and ask whether they know their roles and have that sorted because he knows it is tough to back up with another strong performance after one that was so dominant.

No matter how much the All Blacks tell themselves and the public there will be no mercy, it is hard to repeat performances. It's been evident in this outstanding Hansen coaching era when they have won with ease and battled the next time out.

The best string of performances under extreme pressure came in the 2015 World Cup playoffs when they smashed France, rose to the Springbok challenge and then dismissed the Wallabies. That was last year. Time to switch players and change gears, move on and make every rival react or think damage limitation while the All Blacks continue to hone their skills.

Supremacy is a powerful weapon on any sports field as long as it is harnessed not brandished. Inflated confidence is a weapon best harnessed by the opposition.

Hansen has his size 12s planted in terra firma during footy season and demands similar responses from his men. His eye-balling is fearsome if he suspects efforts have diminished.

His men are there to do a job for the All Blacks, themselves, their families and the nation. Unlike most of New Zealand, they work under a massive public inspection so whatever it takes, they need to get their game on track for kickoff.

Hansen's demands will have been crisp, along the lines of "that was just a start in Sydney, we expect more".

Privately, Hansen and his staff will expect victory against a lesser-calibre side. The margin will not be paramount but the quality will be.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 08 Dec 2016 06:05:52 Processing Time: 327ms