A few years back a frustrated Michael Cheika smashed a glass door in the coaches' box at Canberra.

As the opening Bledisloe Cup wound down in Sydney last Saturday, angry Wallaby fans banged on the toughened windows protecting coach Cheika and his staff from similar damage.

Their message was loud and clear to those who questioned their motives. They'd paid significant money for seats, were sick of the way the Wallabies had folded and reckoned they deserved a refund.

Delighted Kiwi fans offered tongue-in-cheek comfort that they had Australian rugby covered from the top down, with chief executive Raelene Castle a rabid disciple of her New Zealand counterpart Steve Tew and Cheika seldom able to get his side past the All Blacks.


Don't change a thing, the Kiwis chanted on the train ride back from Homebush and deep into the night as they charged into their schooners. Not long after the Wallabies slumped to defeat, captain Michael Hooper told assembled listeners his team had a plan for the return test at Eden Park. The players had barely cooled down but there was Hooper delivering a bullish take about retribution.

Cynical people in the room hoped it was the case but wondered if it was simply a loyal leader spruiking for all his long-term contract was worth.

When the Wallabies revealed they would base their return preparation on Waiheke Island, the head-scratching continued. Nice place for a holiday, tasting the grape or if they wanted to beat the local side but a bit rudimentary for a professional rugby side with players in split housing, going in shifts to the gym and sharing the training field.

Maybe it will work, perhaps the rugby backwater will be a panacea for the Wallabies' woes
as long as they survive the ferry ride back today and no one tries to emulate Manu Tuilagi's diving exploits from 2011.

Just as the Super Rugby series needs competitive Australian sides, there is a craving for more sustained Bledisloe Cup contests.

As much as New Zealand can gloat about their transtasman supremacy it is not helping growth in the game or sustained interest in the rivalry.

Aucklanders of a certain vintage remember when their provincial side was so strong that crowds dwindled because results were never in doubt for more than a few matches each year and spectators switched ends at halftime to watch the blue and whites' scoring zone.

Those audiences have shrunk even further for the Blues and Auckland because they have been so mediocre for so long.


That malaise is eating into Wallaby rugby and their domestic audiences while the transtasman clashes here are not the must-see rugby ticket they were 15 years ago.

The All Blacks are a toughened, complete squad while the Wallabies have a way to go.

They have gaps in their squad in skill, experience and depth off the bench which they can cover when matches run their way but struggle when they are under the pump. The fix-it list from Sydney is lengthy while they will also have to deal with an All Black side who have much to improve.

Consensus was the Wallabies brought a decent game for the opening half while the All Blacks eventually got their game sorted and wound up a notch for half an hour after the interval.

However the Wallabies paint their wash-up at their island retreat, they know that imbalance brought a 38-13 loss and significant warnings about the real gulf between the nations.