Kiwis worry All Blacks 'fear factor is largely gone'

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 12 Aug 2019

The All Blacks' record loss to the Wallabies in Perth left the proud rugby nation struggling to find positives yesterday, with an increasing suggestion their golden days may be over.

"The intimidating aura which has served them so well fell with an almighty thud," wrote Chris Rattue in the New Zealand Herald.

Not only were the reigning world champions humiliated by the 47-26 scoreline, but their loss to Australia also ended a 10-year reign as the top-ranked side in the world - a decade in which they won the World Cup twice. They will be restored as number one if Wales were to lose to England at Twickenham last night.

"The fear factor is largely gone," Rattue said of the All Blacks, adding there was a good chance they would not win the upcoming World Cup, and the "long domination which the incomparable Richie McCaw inspired may well have disappeared forever."

That the All Blacks played the second half with 14 men after lock Scott Barrett was red-carded only added to their woes, but even when they had the maximum number on the field, they were being comprehensively outplayed.

"All Blacks thrashed," "Bledisloe Bashing," "Wallabies shock All Blacks," "Hansen has 'egg all over face,'" screamed the headlines, while Radio New Zealand, perhaps unable to face the truth, posted the headline "All Blacks beat Wallabies" on their webpage before giving the correct match details.

Tony Smith, writing for Stuff.co.nz, tried to find a silver lining by noting that Australia also beat New Zealand in the 2011 and 2015 Southern Hemisphere championship, but it was the All Blacks who won the World Cup in both years. And Gregor Paul in the Herald wrote that "the All Blacks don't really do terminal decline ... and a record loss one week can easily be a record win the next."

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