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Frustrated Wallaby fans need “Link” era to have a silver lining

Given his limited lead time in the job, it’s probably asking a lot to expect Ewen McKenzie to hit the ground running when he launches his Wallaby coaching career in Sydney tonight.

But the reality is he’s unlikely to have too many better opportunities to nail the All Blacks as the post-Robbie Deans era unfolds.

He’s a smart cookie, McKenzie, and he’s already made some bold calls as he plots to ambush an All Black side that, from an underdone Richie McCaw down, could be there for the taking.

Mind you, he’s also smart enough to know that a one-off Bledisloe Cup Test victory against the Wallabies’ trans-Tasman nemesis won’t be enough to cut it with the Australian rugby public if, ultimately, he fails to kick on.

Just ask Robbie Deans.

Let’s not forget that Deans’ Wallabies claimed the All Blacks’ scalp at his first attempt, in Sydney, back in 2008 – but it was to be one of only three victories against New Zealand (from 18 attempts) during his chequered tenure.

Success tonight would certainly be something for Australian fans to savour – not least with the Wallabies coming off that sorry third Test capitulation against the British and Irish Lions.

But, win, lose or draw, there’s still the small matter of silverware.

No pressure, “Link”.

— Peter Thomson


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