Kiwis falter as Aussies storm away with Anzac Test victory
HANDS up those who recall the super-competitive Cooper Cronk previously flashing a big grin after making an unforced error in a game of rugby league.
And hands up those who honestly believed the Kiwis would get within 20 points of the Kangaroos in last Friday's Anzac Test.
With Australia leading 32-6 after scoring their fifth try of the night, Cronk took the ball from the kick-off, aimed to pass and it inexplicably slipped from his grasp.
But there was no sign of frustration, no remonstration or no mouthed expletive from the ultimate professional. Just the grin.
Again smiling, Cronk later told reporters his mistake was a lesson to all kids.
"Make sure you have the ball securely in your hands before trying to pass it," was his message.
But had that been an NRL match for the Storm or an Origin game for the Maroons, I cannot imagine Cronk being as nonplussed about such an uncharacteristic error.
But that sums up the Test match.
With Kiwi captain Simon Mannering withdrawing an hour before kick-off, this was never going to be a contest.
Mannering joined Test regulars Benji Marshall, Thomas Leuluai, Jeremy Smith, Krisnan Inu, Manu Vatuvei and Greg Eastwood on the sideline, as well as Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Kasiano.
It was virtually a second-string Kiwi side.
After the Kangaroos scored at the five-minute mark - ironically through Cronk - everything seemed to be in second gear.
Sure the Kiwis were courageous - and they had three tries disallowed - but the intensity usually seen in an Anzac Test seemed to be missing.
Let's face it - this was an 11-minute Test match.
From the 51st to the 62nd minute the Kangaroos toyed with their luckless opponents and scored four tries, seemingly at will.
As much as I support international competition, doubts must be cast on the future of this Anzac Test.
The Kiwis have not won it since 1998, and back then their victory was regarded as a huge upset.
At season's end, when they have time together to form vital combinations, they are much more competitive.
And let's not forget the Kiwis are World Cup holders and Four Nations champions.
Pouring all resources in to a tournament in October, which could also include emerging minnows Tonga, Samoa and Fiji as well as Australia, England and New Zealand, would seem a more sensible scenario.
It would also give fans an additional month of footy.
And what we can expect in World Cup in the UK at the end of this season is a much more competitive Kiwi side.
In fact, if most of their roster is available don't be surprised if they go back to back.