Wallabies Great Tips Flat All Blacks
Former Wallabies fly-half and Rugby World Cup champion Elton Flatley has warned an ageing All Blacks outfit that they will have to lift their game ahead of the Rugby Union Tri-Nations if they are to salute as the favourites, saying the gun, young Australian squad have the skills and stamina for an upset.
A tactical genius in his day, ex-Queensland Reds star Flatley played in 38 Test games for the Wallabies, including the 2003 Rugby World Cup where he scored a century of points for his country throughout the tournament.
Retired from the game since 2006, Flatley still lives and breathes Rugby and believes this year is the Aussies’ best chance of securing their third World Cup win, breaking a 12-year drought.
While the All Blacks have the more experienced side, lead by superstars Dan Carter and skipper Richie McCaw, Flatley is tipping the in-form youngsters from the Super Rugby Grand Final winning Queensland Reds to give the Wallabies the edge.
In particular Flately named boom Reds’ halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper to give Australia the injection they need for a successful 2011 Rugby World Cup bid.
Last Saturday the Reds’ scored a gritty victory over an All Blacks-saturated Crusaders crew to take out the Super Rugby 15 Premiership title, an ominous sign for New Zealand according to Flatley.
“George Gregan (former Wallabies halfback) always used to talk to us about winning the pressure moments and those guys (Genia and Cooper) did that on the weekend, Flatley said.
“So if winning those big moments is invaluable – and Robbie Deans (Wallabies coach) has spoken about it a few times about how important those finals games are because they’re Test-match situations – it’s a great learning curve for those guys that they came out on top in the pressure moments.
“I think it’s a great sign and it’s happened twice in over about a month that the Reds got over the top of their (the All Blacks) key players – Dan Carter, (Richie) McCaw.
“They’re their two big players for them in the big moments.
“Dan Carter’s got some big runs on the board and Will and Quade, they’ve got to do those moments and winning that (Super Rugby) trophy is a great confidence booster not just for Queensland but for Australian Rugby.”
Australia will kick off their spring Rugby Test season this Saturday playing against Samoa in Sydney and giving the triumphant youngsters their first chance to impress ahead of the World Cup in September – October.
“The thing about the Wallabies, there’s still a bit of growth in our team from when they get into camp now and to when they get to the World Cup,” Flatley said.
“The New Zealanders are probably more of a mature team but there’s definitely a lot of pressure on New Zealand – over there, World Cup time.”
Another warning sign that the All Blacks may be flattening was the upset November triumph by Australia over the Kiwis in the Bledisloe Cup in Hong Kong, the young Wallabies first victory over a New Zealand side featuring both Carter and McCaw.
“I’m not going to give them any ammo at all,” Flatley said.
“(But) they’ll be under pressure, there’s no doubt about it.
“You can see the press starting to put pressure on them already.
“You look at their World Cup history, they’re at home, their team’s not getting any younger, they’re going to be under pressure – but as will Australia.
“Internally, every team and every Australian in that squad, their expectation is to win the World Cup.
“So there will be pressure on all teams and it’s about who wins those big moments.
“You’ve got to get out on the field, but Rugby’s also a big mental game.”