By Gregor Paul in Sydney

It was a little unusual in the build up to the first Bledisloe test that there was no verbal sparring between the respective coaches or obvious attempt by one team to unsettle the other.

But there was still plenty of tension and edge on Saturday night which kicked in as the two sides waited to sing the national anthems.

Curiously, with both teams lined up ready to get on with it, they had to wait while the Wallabies main sponsor, Qantas, had an advert played on the stadium's big screen.


What was even more intriguing was that the advert celebrated the airline's diversity policy.

Intriguing, because it made for 90 genuinely awkward seconds for those who could see the juxtaposition of the sponsor's stance with that of the team's star player.

What must Wallabies fullback Israel Folau have made of a promotion that celebrated gay marriage – a topic on which he has been fiercely opposed?

It may have looked that the most obvious place the Wallabies were out of kilter was in their lineout work, but perhaps those 90 seconds alluded to a bigger problem – that the Australian Rugby Union has an impossible situation to manage with Folau.

The pressure is bearing down on rugby administrations all over the world to embrace more inclusive policies and genuinely present as a diverse sport and yet the ARU, until now, has been reticent to reign in Folau for the homophobic views he's expressed on social media.

Clearly, given the fullback's talent and standing, the ARU doesn't want to lose him to a rival code – especially not a year before the World Cup – but the tension between sponsor and player is obvious and not sustainable.

Sam Whitelock receives his 100th test cap from Kieran Read. Photo / Photosport
Sam Whitelock receives his 100th test cap from Kieran Read. Photo / Photosport

Just as clear after the game was the tension between the two rival playing camps.

After the usual handshakes, the Wallabies, almost to a man, traipsed off to the changing sheds, despite them knowing the All Blacks were having an unofficial ceremony to present Sam Whitelock with his centurion cap.


The fact it was an unofficial celebration said plenty in itself as even the English, after a bit of persuasion, allowed the All Blacks to have the run of Twickenham to officially honour Daniel Carter when he played his 100th test in London.

World Rugby made the same allowance for Ma'a Nonu after the game against Tonga in Newcastle at the 2015 World Cup and in 2012, under a different regime, Keven Mealamu was officially honoured in Brisbane.

But not only was Whitelock's moment off the books, only four Wallabies hung around to acknowledge the moment.

Will Genia made a point of walking across to shake Whitelock's hand and Michael Hooper, Bernard Foley and Crusaders teammate Pete Samu stayed out to see the presentation alongside former All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne, who now does the same job with the Wallabies.

But that was it as the rest of the Wallabies thought it was more important to begin the debrief and planning for this week than honour a rival player making his 100th test appearance.

So while there was no overt sign of the tension that exists between these two old foes, it was there nevertheless.