Flatley fires psychological shot at NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Flatley fires psychological shot at NZ

By Darren Walton 14/07/2011 05:53:00 PM Comments (0)

Former Wallabies World Cup hero Elton Flatley has fired a psychological shot across the Tasman, claiming the ageing All Blacks are under increasing pressure to keep pace with Australia's all-conquering youngsters.

Flatley believes Queensland's gun halves Quade Cooper and Will Genia have turned up the heat on New Zealand superstars Dan Carter and captain Richie McCaw, in particular, after guiding the Reds to a Super Rugby crown and the Wallabies to a streak-busting win over the All Blacks.

Flatley on Thursday claimed Genia and Cooper had won the "pressure moments" against both the All Black-laced Crusaders last Saturday night and also in Australia's last-up Bledisloe Cup triumph over New Zealand in Hong Kong in November.

Such important breakthroughs could leave the All Blacks with mental scars heading into the Tri Nations starting next week and ultimately the World Cup in New Zealand in September-October, according to Flatley.

"George Gregan always used to talk to us about winning the pressure moments and those guys (Cooper and Genia) did that on the weekend," said Flatley, whose ice-cool goalkicking for Australia sent the 2003 World Cup final against England into extra time.

"So if winning those big moments is invaluable - and (Wallabies coach) Robbie Deans has spoken about it a few times about how important those finals games are because they're Test-match situations - it's a great learning curve for those guys that they came out on top in the pressure moments.

"I think it's a great sign and it's happened twice in over about a month that the Reds got over the top of their key players - Dan Carter, McCaw.

"They're their two big players for them in the big moments."

Not wanting to provoke the World Cup hosts into retribution, Flatley was initially reluctant to comment on whether or not Australia's victory over New Zealand in Hong Kong, after 10 straight Test losses, had exposed cracks in the All Blacks' armour.

"I'm not going to give them any ammo at all," he said. "(But) they'll be under pressure, there's no doubt about it.

"You can the see the press starting to put pressure on them already.

"You look at their World Cup history, they're at home, their team's not getting any younger, they're going to be under pressure - but as will Australia.

"Internally, every team and every Australian in that squad, their expectation is to win the World Cup.

"So there will be pressure on all teams and it's all about who wins those big moments."

Hence why Flatley believes Cooper and Genia's recent wins over Carter and McCaw and company will give the Wallabies a huge lift heading into the 2011 Test season, which kicks off with Australia playing Samoa in Sydney on Sunday.

"You've got to get out on the field, but rugby's also a big mental game," Flatley said.

"Dan Carter's got some big runs on the board and Will and Quade, they've got to do those moments and winning that (Super Rugby) trophy is a great confidence booster not just for Queensland but for Australian rugby.

"The thing about the Wallabies, there's still got a bit of growth (to come) in our team from when they get into camp now and to when they get to the World Cup.

"The New Zealanders are probably more of a mature team but there's definitely ... but there's definitely a lot of pressure on New Zealand - over there, World Cup time."

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