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Ofisa Tonu'u.

Ofisa is a former All Black and Samoa international. As one of the most prominent halfbacks of the 1990s, Tonu'u won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Blues in 1996 and 1997.

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Tonu’u: Australia need to fight fire with fire

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Ofisa Tonu'u     26 Aug 2016     Getty Images

When you look at the manner of defeat last week, and the fact that Australia haven’t beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001, I think even some of the senior Wallabies will be secretly doubting whether they can get up in Wellington.

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Last week they looked clueless on attack and were ineffective on defence. Their normally innovative backline offered nothing and gave the All Blacks too much time to reset their defensive line. The usually dynamic Will Genia spent the whole game on the back foot while Bernard Foley stood to deep and lacked imagination to challenge the All Blacks defence. 

The Wallabies strike players didn’t receive enough ball in space and their set piece was shaky throughout. The one bright spot for Australia was the performance of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the loose. They battled hard and managed to turn over a fair share of ball – the problem was that their backline didn’t know what to do with it.

If Australia are to have any chance this week, they need to feed off the work of Pocock and Hooper in the forwards and fight fire with fire in the backs. 

The selection of Quade Cooper for his first Test since the 2015 Rugby World Cup could be just the boost the Wallaby backline needs. Cooper is a play maker of the highest order and will offer Australia something different on attack. Between Cooper and second five-eighth Bernard Foley, they need to get the ball into the hands of their strike weapons more often.
Centre Samu Kerevi and fullback Israel Folau are both capable of blowing a game wide open but need to be given the opportunities to do so. Cooper will need to unleash his full bag of tricks to find a chink in the All Blacks armour if Australia are to have any chance.

Quade Cooper has been public enemy number one for All Blacks fans for a number of years now, but I hope that supporters don’t stoop to anything nasty this weekend. A bit of friendly banter is fine but let’s not cross the line with anything personal.

When looking at the current gulf between Australia and New Zealand, I believe the current Super Rugby format has made the All Blacks stronger.

There was a concern that the local derbies would take a physical toll on the New Zealand players and would ultimately weaken them. But I think it is the opposite. The local derbies have made all of the New Zealand teams stronger. The games are played at a Test match like intensity which is unmatched by any of the other conferences. 

This leads straight onto the All Blacks and makes it easier for new players to come into the squad. Debutant second five-eighth Anton Lienert-Brown has already experienced a Test match like tempo by playing in the local derbies during the Super Rugby season so should slot straight in and perform.

This week, I expect a bruised Australian side to bounce back and show some real pride in their performance. I don’t think it will be enough to get them a win, but I do expect a closer encounter in Wellington.