How quickly things change
This time last week there was a lot of flak flying in an easterly direction across the Tasman Sea.
Fair to say the Aussies were crowing over the Reds' Super Rugby victory, with former Wallaby Pat Howard one to claim that the defeat of the Crusaders reflected big trouble in little New Zealand ahead of the World Cup.
New Zealanders, under enough pressure as it was to break their Cup drought, were now said to be spooked by Genia and Cooper. The young Wallabies were on the up, the old All Blacks in decline.
All of that may prove to be true come October, but in the meantime, if nothing else Australia’s shock humiliating defeat to Samoa at the weekend might have at least made Pat Howard & co spend a bit more time looking at their own team than trying to put the heat on others.
It was a great match to watch, with the Samoans refusing to tire in the manner the Aussies clearly expected them to.
Instead of firing all their shots early, and then falling away as fatigue set in, the Samoans were putting as much sting into their tackles in the 80th minute as they had in the 8th, and not even the introduction of big guns like Will Genia, Kurtley Beale and Scott Higginbotham could make any difference.
It’s a humiliating loss for the Wallabies, their 20th in 44 games since Robbie Deans took over, eclipsing their loss to Scotland two years ago as the low point of his reign.
Yes, they were under strength, but that was their choice, and while they may try and dismiss it as having been a match of little consequence, played by a second-string team, it is still a loss, and exposes Australian rugby's lack of depth.
So is that an encouraging thing for the Springboks, who themselves will field an under-strength side this coming weekend?
Firstly it is good that they got there. Having flown the Southern Ocean between Johannesburg and Sydney a few times, I can tell you the thought of an engine conking out is one to make you shudder… you’re flying over a lot of cold water!
What is cause for optimism for the Boks is the way the Australians succumbed to the physicality of the Samoans.
On the other hand the loss could spell bad news for South Africa, in that the Wallabies will be stung by the result and know that if they can’t win this game at home, their World Cup preparations will be in serious trouble.
They will be desperate to avoid that scenario, and they will have the Cooper/Genia combo back.
A week ago I would have tipped the Aussies. Now I’m not so sure. All I know is that I will be glued to the TV come kick-off.