It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell whether the Wallabies are more determined to beat the All Blacks or become exactly like them.

They seem to be working on the theory that if you can't beat them, then copy everything they do and then see if you can beat them.

Year-by-year the Wallabies under coach Michael Cheika morph that little bit closer to being an All Blacks clone.

Which is a bit strange because Cheika is a fiercely driven, independent thinker who has been determined to build a Wallabies team in which Australia can be proud.


By his own admission he's a traditionalist and as Australian as they come and he hasn't given the impression that he's overly fond of the All Blacks. But he obviously thinks they are on the right track with some things.

The latest idea that the Wallabies are borrowing is using the gap between Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship to play a quirky fixture.

The All Blacks have been doing their 'Game of Three Halves' for seven years now and it has become an important part of their Rugby Championship preparation: a good way to ensure those players whose Super Rugby clubs were knocked out before the final are able to get a solid hit out before the first Bledisloe Cup clash.

The idea - where the All Blacks play one half against one provincial team and the second half against an another - has proven popular with fans, too and become part of the calendar.

Across the Tasman, the Wallabies have decided they too need to invent a regular game to be played ahead of the first Bledisloe.

In 2016 and 2017 the Wallabies were hamemred by the All Blacks in Sydney. On both occasions the Wallabies came into the test cold, with Cheika believing that ultra tough training camps and internal games would be enough to ready his team to face the All Blacks.

For the bulk of his squad, it meant they hadn't actually played a proper game since the last round of Super Rugby as only Australian side made the playoffs and that one side was knocked out in the quarter-final both times.

The Wallabies were badly undercooked on both occasions and the opening tests of both 2016 and 2017 were all but over by half-time.


Chieka now appears to have accepted he needs to change things and on Friday night a Wallabies team minus the Waratahs contingent, played a Super Rugby select team.

This is by no means the only idea Australia has recently borrowed from New Zealand.

Last year, when their Super Rugby sides failed to win a game against Kiwi opposition, there was a crises meeting at the end of which former Wallabies midfielder was hired by the Australian Rugby Union in a coaching development system.

The rationale was to bring greater unity between the Super Rugby clubs and Wallabies so as playing philosophies and skill sets could be better developed in Super Rugby to suit the style of the national team.

Again, the Australians had looked at what happens in New Zealand with the cohesion between Super Rugby club and the All Blacks thought they would like something similar.

The Wallabies also thought back in 2016 that they needed to develop their micro skills which had been exposed as not being at the same level as the All Blacks. So what did they do?

They hired Mick Byrne, who had been the All Blacks skills coach between 2005 and 2015 and had made a huge impact.

An Australian by birth, Byrne had returned to Brisbane for family reasons and Cheika pounced. Just as he did with the All Blacks, Bryne is having a significant effect on the
Wallabies who pass and kick better than they did three years ago.

By the World Cup next year, whio knows, it might be there are two versions of the same All Blacks team, just one wears gold jerseys.