Horan fires first shot

Wallabies legend Tim Horan has started the war of words ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash by claiming that the All Blacks are losing their aura.

After their exit at the World Cup last year, Horan said that the All Blacks would never be the force they once were and now after their recent loss to South Africa he believes New Zealand are just one loss away from losing their winning image completely.

“They are at the stage where they’re at the tipping point of losing their aura. That aura of the All Blacks has been there ever since the team started,” said Horan.

The double World Cup winner’s words are sure to spark a reaction from fans and players alike after the All Blacks were knocked off the top spot in the IRB rankings with their defeat to the Boks.

“My pick for the last World Cup was for the All Blacks to win the final by 20 points, that’s how superior I thought they were,” the 80 Test Veteran told the Sunday News in Australia.

“I don’t think you can pick one isolated reason the All Blacks don’t perform at World Cup. It just doesn’t happen. Having the World Cup at home is obviously going to help them in a few years’ time. But the World Cup is so far off and these days you can easily play 50 test matches in the four years between World Cups.”

Horan says that Saturdays Bledisloe Cup clash is important to both sides, but for different reasons. He believes that Wallabies need to win to keep the Australian public happy, while New Zealand have to win to have any chance of retaining their Tri-Nations crown.

“It’s important for us [Australia] because it’s our home ground. You only get three home games and to have any chance of winning the Tri-Nations, you have to win them. With Robbie Deans being part of the Australian set up now, it’s going to take him time to settle in. As much as the Australian public aren’t very patient sports people, they’re going to have to be a bit more so with Robbie.

“The Wallabies’ first three matches weren’t fantastic, struggling Test matches. I just hope there’s not too much fool’s gold there at the moment. New Zealand now has to win two games away to have any chance of retaining the Tri-Nations, said Horan.

“They’d think they’ll have a fair chance of beating the Wallabies in Auckland, but to win the competition they’ll need to win at least one of the two games in Australia.”