Halfback Will Genia says the Wallabies’ premature belief they’d beaten the All Blacks in Dunedin last year was the reason they ultimately lost the game, and missed a golden chance to break the 16-year Bledisloe Cup drought.
In a special feature, Genia sat down with RUGBY.com.au to re-watch the 2017 Bledisloe Cup series and break down the key moments in all three Tests.
It was the 15th straight series win for the Kiwis but even after a heavy first Test win to the All Blacks, Australia went agonisingly close to snapping the run.
Australia rallied and were just minutes away from beating the Kiwis in the second when Kurtley Beale scored a go-ahead try in the 75th minute.
The crowd was stunned and Australians dared to believe. Asked if the Wallabies allowed themselves to think “we may have won this” after Beale’s try, Genia said: “I think a lot of us probably did, which is why we lost it in the end.”
“There was four or three minutes to go at this stage and you don’t really think you are going to lose the game, because they’d scored, we’d scored and you’re thinking: ’three minutes to go, we have got this’,” Genia continued.
The Wallabies failed to secure the kickoff and the All Blacks scored in the dying moments to win the game.
“I think that lapse in concentration is what cost us, in the end. It probably still hurts to watch this to be honest,” Genia said.
In a fascinating interview, the Wallabies veteran also revealed one of the reasons the Australians fought back so hard in Dunedin was a presumptuous running sheet provided by NZRU to the Wallabies for the game.
“I remember the one thing Cheik said to us before we went our there was they had sheet, a plan and program for the game, as they always do,” Genia said.
“And it said “Bledisloe Cup presentation”, at such and such a time after full-time. They pretty much assumed they were going to win it. That certainly got the boys pretty fired up.”
Genia pointed towards a lack of trust in a new defensive system as the reason why the Wallabies were so dominated by New Zealand in the first Test. It had emerged during training in the lead-up and quickly reared its head in the game, too.
“When we reviewed this game we went back and that was certainly the case, guys weren’t sticking their roles and because guys were hesitant in terms of trusting the system, we were all over the shop, guys were sitting back, guys were double defending, guys not chasing on the inside, just defending out of the system because of the lack of trust,” Genia said.
“It certainly showed and it was a very poor performance.”
The Wallabies won the third Test in Brisbane, while wearing the indigenous jersey. Genia said it was a special night and the win was all the more treasured because of the feeling in the Wallabies’ sheds after the second Test loss.
But after watching the games with RUGBY.com.au, Genia said the clear lesson of 2017 was simple: don’t start slow in 2018.
“The biggest thing it says to me is the importance of game one, and just not starting slowly,” Genia said.
“They are a side that you can’t give a leg up in any kind of way, whether it is during a game or in a series. The last two years they have won the first Bledisloe incredibly easy, so that first game is just so incredibly important.”
The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.