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The problem with supporting the Wallabies

Supporting the Wallabies is a bittersweet decision. While you can have moments of euphoric elation, these are often interspersed with crushing defeats or insipid performances.

On Saturday night I started writing this article sitting at the SCG, with a grand view of the field. The players had finished warming up and the marching band duel had begun with great enthusiasm, perhaps a sign of what was ahead.

Flames rose around the stadium as 43,000-plus fans filtered to their seats.

Despite the view and the occasion, I was wracked with nerves.

Why the butterflies?

Since Eddie Jones took the reins of England rugby, they had won eight in a row. The 2016 home defeat was particularly crushing, with Michael Cheika and his team being outplayed and outsmarted at every turn.

Despite winning the series opener in Perth, the Wallabies were manhandled in the first half in Brisbane. Gifting a 19-0 lead to England was never going to lead to success.

This is where the butterflies flutter thick and fast. Yes, we won the match in Perth. But our previous encounters were a 32-15 defeat at Twickenham last year and the crushing 40-16 demolition in the quarter-final of the 2019 World Cup.

I’m scared that we’re going to lose. Again. To England. To a smug Eddie Jones with that smirk on that face.

My heart can’t handle that.

England coach Eddie Jones arrives for an England squad training session at Coogee Oval on July 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

The smirk in question (Photo by Mark Evans – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Eddie has just left the media room. The smirk was everything I was worried about.

“The result is always important, but the development of the team is what’s important… we’re developing a team for the World Cup,” says the victorious coach.

To be fair, he deserves the smirk.

The criticism levelled his way after the defeat in Perth was unwarranted. He’s always said he has a direction for his England team. Last week, they were a battering ram. This week, England were good enough to take the minimal opportunities presented to them by a wasteful Wallabies team.

The wastefulness, the choices to go for the corner rather than take points, the incredible ‘what if’ moments such as Frost’s charge down. They stack together as ongoing frustrations for fans of the green and gold.

“We weren’t clinical enough… at this level we have to take our opportunities,” said Dave Rennie post-game.

For the last 10 years, the Wallabies have been near enough but not good enough. They give you hope, that tantalising taste of success that makes you crave more, only for your mouth to be filled with ash in our eventual defeat.

I trust Rennie. Calls for his replacement are ridiculous and short-sighted.

His guidance and stability is a welcome change from the Cheika era.

I also believe in the players. I believe they’re capable of consistent performance above and beyond what we’ve seen.

I strongly believe they can match the hope and expectations that we as fans have for them.

Argentina awaits.

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