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Australia owe Argentina a favour… here’s how we can repay Los Pumas

The All Blacks were fortunate not to be down 20-3 in the first half hour – Pablo Matera was held up over the line – and even when they threatened to mount a comeback their skills failed the pressure test. Their slide in the World Rugby rankings will be confirmed early next week as they fall to No 3 in the world, and few would argue with that. It has been a decline that has been as gradual as it has been sudden, building for three years or more now, and also highlights the obvious improvements made by the likes of England and South Africa.

Forget all the noise about coach Ian Foster: there is no chance that New Zealand Rugby is going to sack him one year into a two-year deal and replace him with Scott Robertson. The deeper question many Kiwis still ask is: how did NZ Rugby run an appointment process that failed to get applications from Rennie and Jamie Joseph/Tony Brown?

3. Mario Ledesma’s big blue wall

After the Wallabies’ win last week, Rennie said he would take a keen interest in the Pumas’ Test to see what he could learn. The lesson was that you are asking for trouble if you are as unimaginative as the All Blacks in attack. For 80 largely fruitless minutes, they sent wave after wave of runners straight into the teeth of the Pumas’ defence, where they were either chopped down and turned over or held up long enough to drain away any momentum.

Blue wall: The Pumas cut down another All Blacks runner.

Blue wall: The Pumas cut down another All Blacks runner.Credit:Getty

Apart from a few occasions when the All Blacks isolated Cubelli on defence, their big men got nowhere and the backline lacked the creativity shown by Nicolas Sanchez and co. Will the Wallabies likewise make a beeline for Cubelli? It’s possible but they will more than just grunt to break down a Pumas side that was monstrous in the contact zones at Bankwest Stadium.

4. Andrew Mehrtens called it, and Nine/Stan should be knocking on his door.

The former All Blacks No.10 is a self-deprecating type, always joking about his tackling technique, but you won’t find many sharper minds. On Kiwi TV before the Pumas’ victory, Mehrtens boldly stated that Argentina were perfectly poised to put pressure on the All Blacks’ game. In fact, Mehrtens even said they were more likely than the Wallabies to do so.

It raised an eyebrow or two at the time, but who is laughing now? As this column has noted before, the trio of Mehrtens, Sean Maloney and Kiwi Melodie Robinson were probably the pick of the commentary bunch at the Rugby World Cup and Mehrtens is that rare thing: a former All Black who is willing to have a crack at New Zealand rugby. He would be an asset to the new broadcast team.

5. Thank you Growdy

The news of Greg Growden’s passing cast a long shadow over the weekend. As a fearless reporter and columnist he always punched upwards, not down, and that was not just a professional persona – that’s who he was. You could be a nervous new sub-editor just weeks into your Sydney Morning Herald career and he would treat you with the same regard as he showed to the sports editor (sometimes more).

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That had a profound impact on many people, myself included. Here he was, this big man who could make rugby executives break into a sweat with a mere phone call, lifting you up by virtue of his decency. In fact, I will forever associate Growdy with the very best in the Australian character, a bloke who had a deep sense of fair play and was like a shield to those young journalists making their way. What a legacy. Thank you Growdy.

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