James Mortimer 18.Aug.2013Getty Images
Such is the All Blacks record in Australia’s largest city, that one more win in Sydney would see the ledger tip towards the All Blacks to the tune of approximately sixty percent, a sobering number for the Wallabies in a town that is supposed to be their greatest bastion.
Strength in numbers counted for little as nearly 70,000 supporters, although one suspects by the noise towards the close of the Test that many of them were wearing black, watched in shock as an allegedly ‘over the hill’ All Blacks team gave the Wallabies a lesson for the ages.
Respect your elders.
Of course, the cloak of advancing years was never really hanging off the All Blacks shoulders; rather it had been placed there by the media.
And they shrugged it off with the impudence one would expect of a champion, admittedly with some members of their inner circle fighting Father Time as they would a tier-one rugby opponent.
But as the dust settled, few would have opted for young age over experience, and over 300 Test caps to the All Blacks advantage was obvious as they engineered a trademark close to the match, shifting up through the gears as the contest progressed.
Horwill has been chosen as the poster child of the new Wallabies breed that, for another week at the very least, will have to wait to see if their tag of having no mental baggage against the All Blacks will yield any fruit.
It is a moniker that cannot be changed by Australia, for George Smith was the last active Test player for the Wallabies to have tasted success against the All Blacks – meaning McKenzie has no player at his disposal who has drank from the Bledisloe.
McKenzie and his towering lock, courtesy of a brilliant record in Reds colours where they won nearly three quarters of all their matches against Kiwi Super Rugby teams, could be forgiven for talking a game that will eventually need to be believed by 15 men wearing gold if the All Blacks are to be felled.
Horwill joined an elusive club as a captain when he led the Wallabies to a victory over the All Blacks in the final match of the 2011 Tri-Nations, but was unable to get his second notch as he came up against another skipper who may go down in history as one of the game’s greats.
One suspects there won’t be much talk of McCaw being underdone or the All Blacks being too old as the McKenzie camp prepares for Wellington.