They are about to equal a mark set by the Invincibles, but will the current crop of Kangaroos become the Invisibles?
If Australia overcome New Zealand in Friday night’s Test – and they are $ 1.10 favourites to do so – it will be their 16th consecutive Test victory. The streak would equal the longest in international rugby league, set by the great Australian sides in a golden undefeated run from 1979 to 1983. That era includes the Invincibles, who earned the name after winning all 22 of their matches (including tour games) on an all-conquering tour of Great Britain in 1982. That squad – coached by Frank Stanton and including the likes of Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Ray Price, Steve Rogers, Steve Mortimer and Wayne Pearce – scored 1005 points while conceding only 120. Those feats have prompted many observers to label them the greatest Test team ever assembled.
However, the current batch are staking a claim for that mantle with their own unbeaten run. But will Sydney support them? They dominated the World Cup, taking out the title without conceding a single try in their last five matches. The team, coached by Tim Sheens, contains modern greats including Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, who will all feature in discussions about whether they deserve Immortal status after they retire. But there are fears apathetic Sydneysiders will not turn up to what is expected to be one of the most lopsided results in trans-Tasman history. Ticket sales are believed to be sluggish and it could be one of the smallest Test crowds in the city’s history.
The lowest Sydney crowd for an international involving Australia in the past 25 years is the paltry 6541 figure posted for the clash with New Zealand at the SCG in 1978. While that mark will be surpassed, it remains to be seen if they top the next-lowest attendances during that period – 11,308 for the PNG clash at Parramatta Stadium and 15,855 against Fiji at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2008.