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Wallabies can end ABs reign

Saturday, October 28, 2017

AUSTRALIA's Bledisloe Cup win against the All Blacks in Brisbane is proof that the world champions' dominance could soon come to an end, says Israel Folau.

The Wallabies won the dead rubber 23-18, ending a winless streak spanning more than two years and cutting back the All Blacks' lead atop the World Rugby rankings.

In a column for the website, Folau says the earlier defeat in Dunedin (when the visitors went down 35-29 after a last-gasp Beauden Barrett try) was a turning point for Michael Cheika's team.

"The loss in Dunedin really stung us - we thought we were good enough to win that game, but let ourselves down in a couple of key areas," Folau said.

"There's been a big change in this team since the first Bledisloe Cup game . You can see the belief growing in all the boys.

"The win against the New Zealand in Brisbane was a great way to sign-off from test rugby this year."

The Wallabies didn't get carried away with their celebrations after the victory, but now realise they can beat any team in the world, he said.

"That self-belief is spreading across the Wallabies team. It's real, and you can see it out there in our individual and collective performances which have been improving every week.

"From the outside looking in, it seems that the All Blacks players grow a few inches every time they put that jersey on.

"The All Blacks have been dominant for a really long time. What they have been able to do is special, but we feel we are ready to challenge that dominance."

Folau this week announced he would be taking an extended break from rugby and would miss the Wallabies end-of-year tour.

"I feel like I've still got a lot of footy in me as well - I'm only 28, so I reckon this break will put me in good stead for years to come, particularly with a world cup campaign on the horizon.

"If you look at the All Blacks in recent years, they've been really aware that from a planning and player welfare perspective they need to do certain things to make sure the team is at its peak every four years. Sabbaticals have become a huge part of their planning.

"Guys will take a break, or play a short stint in France or Japan, and come back to New Zealand camp raring to go. They're one of the most dominant sporting teams in the world."

Despite the loss in Brisbane, the All Blacks still look set to mark eight years atop of the World Rugby rankings, sitting on 93.83 points.England remain in second spot on 90.14 but don't have a chance to close the gap until they face 10th ranked Argentina next month.The Wallabies are in third despite their first win over the All Blacks since August 2015.

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