"What's the difference between a tea-bag and the All Blacks? A tea-bag stays in the Cup longer."

Or, how about, "What do you call 15 guys sitting around the TV watching the Rugby World Cup final? The All Blacks."

Australian rugby columnists are queuing up across the Tasman to sink the boot into the All Blacks, ahead of tomorrow night's second Rugby World Cup semi final between the All Blacks and Wallabies at Eden Park.

The Daily Telegraph's Mike Colman has labelled the All Blacks, "The biggest chokers since the Boston Strangler".


And the jokes have been coming thick and fast.

The Telegraph is calling on its readers for the best All Black jokes, among them this: "Have you heard about the All Blacks new bra? All support but no cup."

Colman says "the All Blacks are in the finals and the wheels are falling off".

And he's not alone in sinking the boot.

The paper also quotes Wallabies forward Wycliff Palu saying New Zealand's "history of choking in the tournament" would play into Australia's hands.

"Yeah, I think so, and I think if the game is pretty tight towards the end, especially losing someone like Dan Carter, that added pressure to a young guy like Cruden or Weepu in No.10 is going to be a bit too much."

Well thanks very much Wycliff.

Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald's controversial Peter Fitzsimmons, a former international now expert on all matters, who is currently commentating on the Cup for Maori TV, has penned an open letter to New Zealanders entitled "Kiwis, it's time to choke".


He starts "Dear Kiwis ....How do we know you're anxious? Because your collective knee-knocking and teeth-gnashing have been keeping our children awake across the ditch", and continues,"We all know that the three great traditions of rugby are tossing the coin before the match, giving three cheers for the ref afterwards and the All Blacks crashing and burning in the World Cup semi-finals."

A World Cup hoodoo it might be, yet the Aussies have been quick to dismiss their own Eden Park woes.

Aussie great Greg Cornelsen, who scored four tries at the ground in an Aussie victory in 1978, says the hoodoo is "just in the minds of New Zealanders".

"I don't think that's a factor at all. The boys are playing magnificently, and they're really hitting their stride at the right time."

Yes, the mind games are in full swing. At the very least one hoodoo will be broken at Eden Park tomorrow. And the Australian critics will be proved right - or wrong.