“[Australia] get eight penalties and six errors in the first 30 minutes and your fullback doesn’t pin them in the corner and you lose your lineout? That wasn’t a great game. People were doing bloody mexican waves after 25 minutes.”
All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock played a straight bat when asked about Kirwan’s criticism earlier in the week that New Zealand’s opening 30 minutes was their worst period of play in five years.
“Everyone’s allowed their opinion. That’s obviously his,” Whitelock said.
Kirwan maintains that under Rennie, the Wallabies are improving and could win in a do-or-die encounter.
Lose and we go to a dead rubber in a fortnight’s time in Perth, which is a worst-case scenario for Rugby Australia.
Australia has been keen to remind New Zealand they are the ones under pressure given their streak at Eden Park, while Wallabies winger Andrew Kellaway accidentally gave New Zealand some ammunition by saying their aura may have diminished in the eyes of some of younger Australian players who now know what to expect.
“You never win the football game off the field. Ever,” Kirwan said. “That is just all peripheral bullshit.
“I don’t think the All Blacks have ever had an aura about them if you play for Australia. They have just been better over the last little while. I played the Australian side when they were a bloody good football side and used to beat us.
“What that young fella [Kellaway] needs to do is make 100 per cent of his tackles and every time he gets an opportunity, nail it. If he doesn’t, he won’t win. You can try and put as much pressure on but it’s not going to win you a football game.”
If the Wallabies fail to win, Rennie’s overall record will stand at three wins, three draws and five losses since he took over last year.
Kirwan pointed the finger at Australian rugby’s overall system instead.
“I don’t think it’s the head coach’s problem,” Kirwan said. “I think it is your system that has let itself down since 2003. It’s what Rennie gets delivered. If [Australia] think he’s the best man for the job, then you leave him there until the World Cup then reassess.
“I’ve seen improvements in this side. He will get more and more improvements. The Wallabies beat France in a Test series. The Bledisloe is still up in the air. The question I would ask is does Australia have the cattle? Do you have the players to compete at the highest level? If you don’t, you need to be asking the administration [for answers], not the coach.”
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