Sport Union ‘This cuts right to the bone’: Australian sport’s long-running curse

‘This cuts right to the bone’: Australian sport’s long-running curse

Waratahs Crusaders
The Waratahs capitulated against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty
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In 39 successive Super Rugby matches against New Zealand-based opposition, Australian teams have come up short.

The incredible statistic dates back to May 2016 and has become a major source of frustration for those involved in Australian rugby.

It should have ended on Saturday, when the Waratahs stormed out of the blocks and led the Crusaders 29-0 inside half an hour, but the Super Rugby champions produced the biggest comeback in competition history to win a thriller 31-29.

The result was sadly predictable, and former Wallaby Rod Kafer admitted the curse was affecting the players.

“There’s every chance that it has got into their heads,” he told The New Daily.

“Players are resilient people, but stuff like this cuts right to the bone. It’s going to be making them anxious and they will be feeling feelings of stress.

“Winning and losing is the business that is professional sport, but this has gone on for a long period time.

“I wish we weren’t talking about it still, but our teams are improving. And when we do win one, there will be a big sigh of relief.”

Kafer, who played 37 Super Rugby matches, said Australian teams simply do not have the “mentality” that Kiwi rivals do and pointed to the ongoing success of the All Blacks as one of the key reasons behind the hoodoo.

“It’s a combination of things. New Zealand’s player base is used to winning over a long period,” he said.

“And going out onto the field expecting to win is a great position to be in.

“They’ve got that winning mentality. At the moment, we don’t have that. Our teams are not used to winning.

“In our history against the All Blacks, we win less than 30 per cent of time.

“New Zealand and New Zealand sides have had the wood over us for a long time now. The teams and players they have – they are one of the most successful teams ever in rugby and world sport.

“The All Blacks rival the great West Indies cricket teams of the 1980s and 1990s.”

Kafer, a Fox Sports commentator, is positive the wheel will soon turn for Australia-based sides.

Queensland’s Reds, who visit the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday, have the chance to be the side to end the unwanted streak, and if they fail, it could be third time lucky for the Waratahs.

Daryl Gibson’s side has already suffered agonising losses against the Blues and Crusaders this month and host the Highlanders on Saturday.

“The Waratahs were absolutely good enough to win their last two matches and right at the last moment, they couldn’t do it,” he said.

“All the Super Rugby teams in Australia have improved, though, and I think it’s a bit like the four-minute mile.

“They said it couldn’t be done and Roger Bannister did it. Then in the next few years, quite a few people did it. It’s a mental issue. Once someone does it [beats a New Zealand side], lots will follow.

“There’s an old adage in sport that is very apt, and it’s that results will follow performance. We’re improving and the results will follow.

“The Australian rugby population demands our teams perform and play well. A win would potentially change the psyche and might lead in to our Wallabies performing better, too. It would be a massive boost.”

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