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‘May not have the depth…’: Richie McCaw’s view on Wallabies’ struggles

By Finn Morton
All Black captain Richie McCaw shakes hands with David Pocock #7 of the Wallabies following his team's 20-6 victory during semi final two of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park on October 16, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

When Australia plays New Zealand in any sport, there’s much more than bragging rights on the line. It’s simply a matter of national importance as the big brother goes toe-to-toe against its smaller foe.

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If you ask any Aussie or Kiwi, they’ll agree that this rivalry means something else. But the heated battles are fuelled by overwhelming respect, with neither nation truly wanting to see the other crash and burn on the sporting field – but that’s exactly what’s happened.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones was uncharacteristically quiet as he walked into the mandatory post-match press conference after Australia’s record 40-6 loss to Wales at the Rugby World Cup.

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That disastrous defeat ultimately spelled the end of Australia’s quest for rugby’s ultimate prize, with the Wallabies leaving the party in France before the business end of the tournament.

With coach Jones at the helm, Australia lost seven of nine Tests this year – a once unfathomably poor run for the Wallabies, and things have gone from bad to worse since.

Jones resigned just after the World Cup final, star wing Mark Nawaqanitawase reportedly met with NRL powerhouse the Sydney Roosters, and chairman Hamish McLennan was publicly ousted from the role by six member union states.

But even New Zealanders, who claim a fierce rivalry with their neighbours across the ditch, just want the hurt to stop for Australian rugby.

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Two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw believes New Zealand needs Australia to be successful for the betterment of both traditional rugby powerhouses.

“Obviously, disappointing from a Wallaby point of view that they didn’t get out of the group stage,” McCaw said, as reported by Nine’s Wide World of Sports.

“I was part of a team in 2007 that although we made the quarters, we came home well below expectations. When you’ve got people that expect better there is a lot of questions asked but you’ve got to make sure the passion and the people who really care get aligned on the things you need to do to turn it around.

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“I know a lot of the players I played against who are extremely passionate and want to see Wallaby rugby and Australian rugby in general be successful.

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“From a New Zealand point of view, we need the Wallabies to be successful to have a Super (Rugby) competition. They may not have the depth that they like but they certainly have got talented players.”

While the Wallabies were left to rue what could’ve been after the World Cup, the All Blacks continued to overcome doubt, scepticism and scrutiny as they marched into another decider.

Playing against the Springboks at Stade de France about one month ago, the New Zealanders showed plenty of fight to stay in the contest after skipper Sam Cane was red-carded in the first half.

But it wasn’t to be. McCaw watched on from the stands at the Parisian venue as the men in black squandered genuine opportunities to win the final late in the piece, but the Boks held on for a thrilling 12-11 victory.

“If you’re not even in with a chance you know you couldn’t have won but the fact that they got close, I don’t know if it makes it better or worse,” McCaw added.

“As a fan sitting there watching, I felt for the guys. It’s one of those things that will always sit with them, that they got so close but didn’t quite nail it but that’s the nature of World Cups, they’re not easy to win and you’ve got to get everything spot on when it counts. It was hard to see them at the end being disappointed, but that’s what happens in sport.”

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