All the hysteria seems to be about what the All Blacks could, would and should do when the second chapter of the Bledisloe Cup kicks off in Auckland tomorrow night.

Hey, what are the Wallabies going to do?

I often hear protagonists espousing the merits of focusing on what they should do as a collective rather than thread their worry beads about what the oppositions will bring to the park.

This time, I'm afraid, it's going to be different when the Michael Hooper-captained Australia run on Eden Park to take on Kieran Read's New Zealand, never mind the 1.3mm of rain that'll set in around 8pm to complicate matters and threaten to turn it into an error-ridden affair.


You see, it's Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's moves that will set the tone to the transtasman test rugby rivalry.

Cheika has earned that wild card on the result of the 47-26 walloping in Perth last Saturday, albeit against an opposition reduced to 14 men in the second half.

By no means does it mean the Wallaby mentor has some sort of upper hand heading into the impending Rugby World Cup. It simply shifts the game of bluff poker into the Aussies' corner.

What is there to suggest that All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen isn't playing silly buggers as a mad scientist in a laboratory with fellow white coat Ian Foster?

So will Cheika tell his upstarts to go for the jugular, in the hope of killing the spirit of the Men in Black, or will he advise them to just ghost their way at a venue where they haven't found any love since 1986.

How gung-ho the green-and-gold fan brigade and former internationals are hardly matters because all of that is simply a red herring.

For that matter, so is the 16-year hoodoo on etching their name on a piece of silverware that, like any other trinket, pales in comparison to the William Webb Ellis Cup up for grabs in Japan in a few weeks.

That the upper cuts and hooks have started coming from the cheap seats — think of the Australia cricketers lifting a player to make a lineout catch of a rugby ball soon after the team photo before the first Ashes test in England — is more an endorsement of the All Blacks' supremacy in rugby-dom than any perceived sense of resurgence of the Wallabies.


In the event the hosts come away with a don't-argue result, should desperate fans welcome that as some form of reaffirmation that the Kiwis are back on track.

I doubt it very much. You see, Cheika can bring any form of result and still catch a flight back to keep that dark horses element intact for the world cup.

The South Africans will be chuckling but what's there to say they didn't just do enough in their 16-all stalemate against the All Blacks here rather than go all the way to show the opposition, and the world, they can do more than the unthinkable come the Holy Grail of rugby.

Whether Cheika will roll out David Pocock remains to be seen but the prudent will argue why risk mindless injuries so close to the world cup.

For all anyone knows, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen could be playing the devil's advocate in a ghosting thriller at Eden Park, Auckland, tomorrow night. Photo / Photosport
For all anyone knows, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen could be playing the devil's advocate in a ghosting thriller at Eden Park, Auckland, tomorrow night. Photo / Photosport

Hansen "dropping" Ben Smith, Owen Franks and Reiko Ioane smacks of pre-cup foxing although the final 31-man cull will offer some closure but not necessarily an insight on what the coach is mulling in terms of his final XV.

I say he should keep them guessing because there's no room for complacency. It's totally out of character for Hansen but then it is his final stint at the helm so why not.

Cheika also, reportedly, has thrown down the gauntlet. If he doesn't win the world cup he'll step down.

Frankly I believe Australia will be poorer for letting go of a fashion industry mogul who has brought a boiler-maker mentality to a country that doesn't rate rugby union as a marquee code.

That he started with Nic White, ahead of Will Genia, at the base of the scrum last weekend shows how astute he can be although I felt he had succumbed to public pressure in cutting loose X-factor pivot Quade Cooper to the detriment of the Wallabies.

Sure, he loses his rag when decisions don't go his way on the field but then who doesn't.

Hansen has snapped and snarled his way through the media scrums this week only to prove when the chips are down the cordial persona becomes the first sign of defensiveness.

Consequently whatever tomorrow night's result, ambiguity will prevail and rugby will be the winner.