The Australian Super Rugby successes in New Zealand are starting to raise eyebrows in high places and win praise from unlikely sources
After another good weekend for the Aussies against Kiwi opposition one of the All Blacks selectors, Grant Fox, was moved to admit that there were aspects of the style of the Australian teams that should be closely examined by New Zealand provinces.
The weekend saw a Quade Cooper inspired Queensland Reds side beat reigning champions the Chiefs 31-23 on their own patch in Hamilton, while the Brumbies moved five points clear at the top of the table with their 30-19 win over the Highlanders.
And the Western Force, the first team the British & Irish Lions will face on Australian soil at the start of their 125th anniversary tour, made it a brilliant hat-trick of victories over New Zealand sides as they upset the form book to beat the Crusaders 16-14 in Perth.
It was those three results that prompted All Black legend Fox, now a national selector in New Zealand, to heap praise on the Aussies in a radio interview.
"I'm particularly impressed with how they look after the ball. I'd actually argue they are doing it better than most of our sides at the moment – retaining possession, keep recycling and being patient,” said Fox.
"There are some varying tactics. The Brumbies have got a very, very strong kicking game but everyone is on the same page and they know what they are doing. They kick the ball well and they just execute the little things.
"Good on them, there is competition for Wallabies spots for the Lions series. Perhaps there is extra motivation, but there is something we can take a look at, particularly in relation to ball retention in the contact area."
The Melbourne Rebels were pipped at home by the Southern Kings, 30-27, and the Waratahs had a weekend off. But with the Brumbies sitting proudly on top of the Super Rugby table, and the Reds in a wildcard position, it is obvious the prospect of facing Warren Gatland’s Lions is having a major impact on the performances of the Australian sides.