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Waratahs’ smarts point way for Wallabies in World Cup year | Bret Harris

NSW ended the Crusaders’ long winning streak and in doing so delivered a lesson Michael Cheika can learn from

There was a time not so long ago when Australian rugby teams were regarded as the smartest in the world. The Wallabies won the 1999 World Cup and the Brumbies their Super Rugby titles in 2001 and 2004 for their cerebral qualities as much, if not more, than their physical abilities. But Australia has not been seen as the most clever rugby nation for quite some time. So it was quite refreshing to see the NSW Waratahs out-smart the Crusaders at the Sydney Cricket Ground at the weekend.

To be fair, in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack, the Crusaders did not seem quite themselves; they looked mentally and physical drained, dropping balls and missing tackles in a most uncharacteristic performance. They also missed two influential players, five-eighth Richie Mo’unga and second-rower Scott Barrett, who were rested as part of the All Blacks’ policy to keep players fresh for the World Cup in Japan later in the year.

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