Thursday, August 23, 2012

ABs to dominate Bledisloe for 10 more years (ADRIAN PROSZENKO)


Rugby legend Mark Ella has made the stunning prediction that the Wallabies won't hold the Bledisloe Cup for another decade.
Australia will need to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park, a venue they haven't won at since 1986, on Saturday night to keep the series alive. But as they try to prize back the Cup for the first time in ten years, Ella predicted another decade of dominance for the New Zealanders.
"We haven't won the Bledisloe Cup for 10 years - and I think it's going to be another 10 years before we get there," Ella said.
"Rugby to me has been terrific, which makes me cringe a little bit when I watch the current crop.
"A lot of people in rugby will say that rugby is in crisis - we're not in crisis, we're just having a bad time.
"It's almost like the depression. It's been for three or four years since we've been in depression and we need to get out of it.
"The performance by the Wallabies against the All Blacks last week wasn't terrific.
"Again, we talked up a good game. It's an interesting side. Two backs on the bench rather than three was always going to pull up a little short.
"Not having Quade Cooper - whether you love him or hate him - at least on the bench he'll give you options and can be the X-factor you need in a game."
Ella made the comments at 'Two-Handers', the first of a series of luncheon talks involving some of sport's biggest stars. Today's session, held at MUMU Grill and also attended by NRL star Benji Marshall, gave punters an opportunity to grill the former Wallaby five-eighth about the state of Australian rugby. He said it was imperative the maligned Cooper played to have any chance of springing an upset on Saturday night.
"Robbie [Deans] obviously picked a team that was very defensive oriented," Ella said of the first game of the series.
"[Berrick] Barnes is a steady player at No.10 and obviously plays field position very well.
"But to win a game you've got to score more points and you need someone like Quade and Kurtley Beale, that's for sure."
Asked if he thought the New Zealand press and fans would get to Cooper, as appeared to be the case prior to the World Cup, Ella said: "Unfortunately for Quade, that's just the way it turned out.
"He tried to knee or elbow Richie McCaw a couple of times leading up to the World Cup.
"They gave him hell over there and if he's playing over there, you better believe it, every time he touches the ball he's going to get booed and harassed.
"I think Quade will play and it will be a real test of his endurance and mental toughness.
"Playing against New Zealand anywhere in the world is a pretty difficult task but playing them at home is even more so."
Ella also backed another besieged playmaker, Kurtley Beale, to bounce back after a forgettable outing at ANZ Stadium.
"Kurtley is a gifted footballer and he had one of those bad days. Well, he had a shocker, really.
"That's the way it goes. I've got no doubt Deans will give him another opportunity at Eden Park on Saturday. Kurtley is strong enough to bounce back, which I'm sure he will."

Sydney Morning Herald

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