Waugh: Super Rugby disappointment a Bledisloe blessing in disguise

by Phil Waugh

A lopsided Super Rugby season could be a blessing in disguise for the Wallabies when it comes to the Bledisloe Cup.

While plenty have been ready to “sink the boot in” as Michael Cheika predicted after the 3-0 England series wash, it’s probably time to hold your horses.

This could be the year we bring the Bledisloe back.

One of the most decisive and influential factors that contributed to that English defeat was the lack of time the Wallabies had to ready themselves for the series.

The Wallabies last won the Bledisloe in 2003. Photo: Getty ImagesOne week in camp before the first Test – no amount of morning after camps can really prepare you for that, in what was a relatively new squad in a number of key positions.

On the other hand, England were coming in hot, off a Six Nations clean sweep, having played six Tests between the World Cup and touching down in Australia.

Last year, some Wallabies had effectively a three-month lead in to the World Cup, with intensive camps in between the Rugby Championship and the main event.

Time is of the essence and with a month until the Sydney Bledisloe Test, it’s something the Wallabies can potentially take advantage of.

Now, let’s look at the way the Super Rugby has panned out. Sure, the New Zealand provinces have dominated the competition and been rewarded with four of their five franchises in the finals, but it’s not all sunshine and roses for them.

With two teams- the Chiefs and the Crusaders- going to South Africa, the toll on your body from a bruising knock out campaign is compounded by a gruelling travel schedule.

Given the four New Zealand teams are in all 4 qualifying finals, it is possible, in fact probable, that the four semi-finalists will all be New Zealand teams

England went home with the Cook Cup in June. Photo: Getty ImagesWhilst this is happening the Wallabies team (minus the Brumbies) will be selected and in training already, building on the combinations they began in June.

Some overseas-based Wallabies are already back and other Test players are in rehab in states across Australia.

For the majority of the squad it’s time to unwind from a taxing Super Rugby season and freshen up for Wallabies camp. Given the Brumbies will probably exit this weekend, all Wallabies from their squad will do the same (albeit a week later).

One thing that is clearly evident when watching New Zealand derbies in Super Rugby, they genuinely rip into each other and for the full 80 minutes.

These clashes are physically and mentally brutal, with the effects lasting for weeks.

So if there are four Kiwi semi-finalists, it will then definitely be an all NZ Super Rugby Final – the perfect Wallabies storm.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell will be in Test  contention. Photo: Getty ImagesWhilst these All Blacks players are beating each other up, the Wallabies will be fine tuning the strategies they will need to win the first game in Sydney on August 20.

You can’t underestimate the energy and commitment it takes to play Super Rugby Finals. It then takes time to recover from this.

The Wallabies will be fresh and jumping out of their skins for that first Bledisloe clash.

The All Blacks will be tired and lacking continuity. If the Wallabies can capitalise on this lethargy and win the first game in Sydney, the momentum they will have on the way to Wellington may be too powerful for the All Blacks to pull back.

There are no demons at the Cake Tin and the Wallabies could have the Cup sewn up before Eden Park even comes into the discussion.

The Wallabies will be united come August. Photo: Getty ImagesIt’s all doom and gloom in the Super Rugby stakes now but it doesn’t take long for the tide to turn.

I may be the ultimate optimist but I understand the pressures of Super Rugby and the power of being together as a group for an extended period of time.

Add to that group a trio of refreshed experienced campaigners in Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell guided by a hungry (and angry) Michael Cheika and 2016 could be just the year to bring that big drinking vessel back to Australia.



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