Upset the All Blacks in the first-ever Bledisloe Cup match in Perth, and then win at Eden Park for the first time since 1986 to end Australia’s 17-year Bledisloe Cup drought.
That’s the verdict from ex-Wallabies captain Phil Waugh, who has questioned the All Blacks’ status as the world’s premier side.
Speaking to Fox Sports, Waugh predicted an unlikely clean sweep from the Wallabies in their upcoming Bledisloe Cup series after the All Blacks struggled in their opening two fixtures of the year against Argentina, which ended in a 20-16 victory, and South Africa, which finished in a 16-all stalemate.
“Coming off that draw, they should have beaten the Springboks,” the 39-year-old said. “They should have closed out that game.”
The former Waratahs star said that losses to the Springboks and Ireland over the past year is further evidence that Steve Hansen’s men are in decline, and that the All Blacks’ last 80-minute performance came in their 40-12 thumping of the Wallabies in Sydney last year.
Subsequently, Waugh believes that the rest of the rugby world has caught up to the reigning back-to-back world champions less than two months’ out from the World Cup, labelling the All Blacks as “very beatable”.
“We go over to Perth and have a good win in Perth, and then we go to Eden Park and you beat the All Blacks for the first time since 1986,” the 79-test veteran said.
Continue reading below…
“I know I’m sounding really optimistic here, but things turn around very quickly.
“You lose [Brodie] Retallick, who’s probably their most dominant forward. They’ve put Richie Mo’unga in at 10, Beauden Barrett’s gone back to 15, so you actually go, ‘well, all of a sudden, there’s a few different combinations there for the All Blacks, too’.
“They haven’t got the settled look, without Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith.”
Waugh’s criticism of the All Blacks didn’t stop there, as he predicted the New Zealanders wouldn’t be able to retain their world title, attributing that to the tinkering of the halves combo between Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga.
Smith and Barrett started the Pumas test at halfback and first-five, but Smith was dropped to the bench in place of Perenara for the Springboks clash, while Barrett was shifted to fullback to make way for Mo’unga in the No 10 jersey.
“If you go through World Cup history, to win, your nine and 10 really need to click, and you go right back to 1987, when it was [David] Kirk and Grant Fox,” Waugh said.
“You need to have a really good combination at nine and 10, and that’s probably a little undecided at the moment.”
The Wallabies, meanwhile, were thumped 35-17 in an unconvincing display against the Springboks at Ellis Park in their first clash of 2019, and followed that up with a scratchy 16-10 win over Argentina in Brisbane a week-and-a-half ago.
Australia haven’t won the Bledisloe Cup since 2002, and have won only eight tests of the 47 played between the trans-Tasman rivals since then.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.