As 2016 ticks down, rugby.com.au is looking back at some of the biggest moments and storylines of the Australian rugby year.
The Sydney Bledisloe
A three-nil series loss to England could be explained away with World Cup Stars in absentia and the Bledisloe still in play, there was still plenty of reason for optimism in the 2016 season.
Then came the Sydney Bledisloe.
Kicking off with the backdrop of the major ‘bug gate’ story that dominated the game day news cycle, that Saturday night at ANZ went from controversial to terrible for the Wallabies, with a mounting injury toll and lopsided scoreboard.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has repeatedly pointed to the Sydney match as the lowest point of their year and it was certainly seen as rock bottom from the outside.
By half-time, Matt Toomua, Rob Horne and Matt Giteau were all on the pine and their Test seasons, and in Giteau’s case, potentially his Wallabies career, ended.
Close to 40 missed tackles proved the major concern for the Wallabies to come out of the loss, and the narrative from the camp in the aftermath was all about ‘honesty’.
It also seemed the catalyst for some change - a result that meant they could no longer hang on to 2015, and thus began some tweaking. First, the return of Quade Cooper to 10 (even if that were only five Tests long in the end), a shift that spurred Bernard Foley onto a strong Spring Tour.
Lineout issues forced heads to roll and opened the door for rookie Adam Coleman to progress into the chief calling role for the Wallabies, a move that paid dividends as the year went on.
Tevita Kuridrani had to wait for a Samu Kerevi injury to return to the Test starting side after his performance in Sydney, ahead of the major backline rejig to come.
While it was close to, if not the most painful night of the 2016 Test season, the 42-8 drubbing bore Spring Tour fruit and forced a Wallabies rethink, with 11 Tests to go in a marathon season.