Did he say that while keeping a straight face?
It’s the backhanded compliment that must drive the Wallabies towards Bledisloe Cup redemption in Brisbane.
The annual rhetoric coming from the All Blacks camp about how much they respect their Australian counterparts when, in reality, they must be laughing behind their backs.
The charm offensive has been a constant throughout New Zealand’s 18-year domination of the Bledisloe Cup.
From Graham Henry to Steve Hansen and now Ian Foster, All Blacks coaches have mastered the art of hoodwinking the Wallabies into believing they’re world-beaters rather than the Trans-Tasman whipping boys they have become.
Foster was at it again, congratulating the “really tough” Wallabies for being such dangerous opponents.
“It means a lot to us to win that trophy and we’re incredibly proud of the group,” Foster said.
“The guys on the park, the guys off the park have been working really, really hard and you saw the feeling on the field afterwards just how much the Bledisloe means to us.
“And one of the reasons it means so much is how much respect we’ve got for this Wallabies team.
“It’s been a tough series to date.”
A tough series?
Since the 16-all draw in Wellington, it’s been another Bledisloe bloodbath – 27-7 in Auckland, then 43-5 in Sydney – the All Blacks’ biggest win over the Wallabies in 117 years.
“For us to play that well is something we’re pretty proud of,” Foster said.
“And just to the Wallabies, I know it’s a tough result for them but I thought we saw a lot of determination and attitude out of them, particularly in that third quarter, to show there’s something building there to guarantee that the next fixtures are always going to be as tough as that one.”
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As tough as that one?
“It’s a mark of respect,” Foster insisted.
“And I keep saying it, we saw in Wellington a really, really tough Wallaby team and we saw it at Eden Park too and we saw it again today.
“It probably wasn’t long enough for their liking and we were able to subdue it when we needed to.
“So the only reason you really enjoy winning trophies like this is because you’ve got a fear factor for the opposition and we legitimately have that.”
A fear factor?
How can the Wallabies believe any of this?
The All Blacks have been saying it year after year.
They may be sporting but they can’t be serious, given some of the scorelines during their record reign.
Since the 2015 World Cup final, the All Blacks have won most Tests in a landslide: 42-8, 29-9, 37-10, 54-34, 38-13, 40-12, 37-20, 36-0, 27-7, 43-5.
It’s time the Wallabies stood up at Suncorp Stadium to give the All Blacks real reason to respect them again.