Tyrone Howe: Aussies’ strength proves they are ready to take on the world
Last month reasserted the dominance of the ‘Big Three’ as the rest of the world continues to play catch up.
While England’s victory over Australia was not only the match, but also the performance of the series, their loss against a wounded Springbok XV came as a harsh dose of reality. Nevertheless, Martin Johnson’s manner and the nature of his public statements suggest that he, along with his players, has learned a lot since taking hold of England’s reins.
Despite defeat to the Poms, the demolition that the Aussies inflicted on France confirms that they still look to be the biggest challengers to New Zealand’s hegemony and quest for the Rugby World Cup.
The Australian backline is like a breath of fresh air — youth, daring, skill and pace all combining to challenge even the best and most organised of defences.
The Springbok pack, led with style and class by Victor Matfield, proved that when you have limited options in the threequarters, big is beautiful and the world champions spent most of their time this autumn bossing opposite packs around the pitch.
Finally, to New Zealand, whose rugby play left us dazzled. The All Blacks are an efficient, well-oiled machine, in which every player is comfortable on the ball and they possess a ruthlessly efficient streak.
Despite this, they are enormously dependent on Dan Carter and Richie McCaw and in 11 months time on home turf, you wonder whether their biggest issue may be mental. The indication at this moment is that it will be a New Zealand v Australia World Cup Final.