No one in the Kangaroos camp wanted to say it but Australia’s historic 26-12 trans-Tasman Test loss to New Zealand on Sunday looks set to mark a changing of the guard ahead of the 2017 World Cup.
Off contract Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens admitted there would be “scrutiny on everyone” but refused to speculate on his veteran team’s future as the Kiwis went into party mode.
Any doubt that New Zealand is not the world’s best team evaporated with the wet at Suncorp Stadium after they emerged triumphant in the rain-delayed trans-Tasman Test.
The match was postponed for almost 48 hours due to torrential showers on Friday night – and for Kiwis fans it was worth the wait.
New Zealand revelled on the dry track to rack up a 26-6 halftime scoreline on their way to inflicting three straight losses on Australia for the first time since 1953.
The Kiwis also celebrated their first victory in a mid-year trans-Tasman Test since 1998 in front of 32,681.
Technically New Zealand won’t be guaranteed the No.1 ranking unless they down England in an end of year three game series.
But Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith admitted New Zealand were now the best.
“We haven’t beaten them the last three times we have played them so I guess they are,” he said.
However the Kangaroos were coy on assessing their own team after the rare mid-year Test loss.
The third oldest Kangaroos team ran out against a young Kiwis despite overlooking veteran centre Justin Hodges.
Lock Corey Parker admitted before the match that he did not expect to play Test football again.
And with a Kangaroos spine with an average age of 30, a succession plan is expected to be launched sooner rather than later ahead of the World Cup.
But Sheens said it was too soon to consider when to blood “generation next” with Australia’s next Test another year away.
“For me I don’t want to broach that tonight,” he said.
“It is a discussion point that has got to be looked at by a lot of people and with no football until this time next year it’s a difficult one – when are you going to play them?”
Sheens – who took over after the 2008 World Cup final loss – is another who may be on the chopping block.
“There will be scrutiny on everyone’s position,” he said.
But asked if he wanted to keep the reins, Sheens said: “Straight after a game like that it is not a question to ask me to be honest.
“Right now I just want to talk about the game.”
But even that would not cheer Sheens up after admitting everything that could have gone wrong did in the first half.
Man-of-the-match Manu Vatuvei bagged a try scoring double in eight minutes before Shaun Kenny-Dowall appeared to break Australia when he pounced on a rare Greg Inglis mistake to score on the stroke of halftime.
“It’s very satisfying,” Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said.
To add further insult, Australia’s Greg Bird was on report for a 74th minute lifting tackle and disappointing debutant Josh Dugan suffered an ankle injury.