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Bring on the Wallabies!

Bring on the Wallabies!

Bring on the Wallabies!

AllBlacks_haka_2017
Ten questions ahead of this weeks Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship opener:
 
1) Will the All Blacks feel The Lions Effect: Since rugby went pro 21 years ago, only the 2009 Springboks have managed to come off a series against the British and Irish Lions to win the first test of The Tri Nations-Rugby Championship? New Zealand lost to their opening test against the Sprinboks after the 2005 Lions, and Australia has lost twice.
 
2) Or will some pent up frustration get unleashed on the Wallabies?
 
3) Can the Wallabies keep their eye on the ball? Fury over the Super Rugby chop and widespread discontent over the state of the game in Australia are not exactly an ideal backdrop as they attempt to win back the Bledisloe Cup. And perhaps more to the point….
 
4) Can Michael Cheika come up with a plan? Yes, they will likely be a lot fitter after his two week boot camp, but they will also have to be a whole lot smarter than last year when they tried to niggle the All Blacks off their game.
 
5) On that same subject, can Cheika keep his cool? He’s compelling viewing as he battles the demons on in the coach’s box, but it’s questionable whether the sight of it on the big screen helps his players much.
 
6) SBW: Where and When? Does he start, if so where? Or does he come off the bench, and if so, when?  For me, it’s Crotty and Lienert-Brown as the run-on combo with Williams to enter early in the second half.
 
7) And can he keep the tackles legit? After what happened in June, it was a bit disturbing to see the shoulder go in during the Game of Three Halves in Pukekohe.
 
8) Did we ever think we would say this about Wayne Barnes but is he an upgrade on Jerome Garces?   You bet he is.
 
9) How big a loss will Charlie Faumuina and Aaron Cruden prove to be? Big Chaz was as good an impact player as any fancy winger, and the loss of those two plus the absence of Dane Coles again tests the All Blacks depth.
 
10) Could the timing of the court decision over the “Spygate” bugging be any worse? To have it released the day before the game is every bit as finding out about on the day of the game last year. If Adrian Gard is guilty, the Aussie press will make out it was the All Blacks doing, if he’s innocent, then we’ll still be in the dark about who was responsible.
 
Answers on Saturday night, just before midnight.