Encouraging start creates positive Aussie vibes
IT'S only a blink as yet but the transfusion that rugby in Australia gets from winning has been highlighted by the Brumbies' 54-17 demolition of the Chiefs.
Positive play, multiple high-performers, selection forecasts for the Wallabies ... the whole conversation changes with victories.
That may seem the most basic of statements but rewind to 2017 when Australia's five Super Rugby sides managed to win just 21 of 75 games between them.
That horrendous 28 per cent winning rate, the death throes of the Western Force and being in the midst of a 40-game losing streak to Kiwi sides strangled Australian rugby.
The opening fortnight of this season has had a refreshingly upbeat tone and not just because the Brumbies routed New Zealand's Chiefs last Saturday night.
The Will Genia-Quade Cooper reunion has given a whole new appeal to the Melbourne Rebels, who can spike that again by going 2-0 by beating the Highlanders on Friday night.
Equally, the Queensland Reds played their best opening match in years in their near-miss in Dunedin.
The real credibility test will come on Saturday night when they have to re-establish Fortress Suncorp when the Crusaders invade.
The NSW Waratahs are a little bit off but major credit to Karmichael Hunt for hustling Sunwolves' sniper Hayden Parker into missing his field goal shot with the game on the line in Tokyo.
Samu Kerevi, Jordan Petaia, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale and Karmichael Hunt have all stirred chatter about the centre spots for the Wallabies.
Equally, youthful dynamos like Brumbies fullback Tom Banks are demanding attention.
Taking an inside ball from Christian Lealiifano to scoot more than 50m for a try against the Chiefs showed again there is no substitute for speed.
There is a less mainstream conversation going on as well.
That's the value of seasoned figures who just know footy like flanker Lachie McCaffrey, fullback Bryce Hegarty, Hunt, Lealiifano and hard-headed hooker Josh Mann-Rea, now the oldest Aussie to ever play Super Rugby at 38.
Australian rugby and club footy, for that matter, seems so consumed by the youth route that gnarled, cauliflowered-eared nous is sometimes sidelined.
It's only a start but an encouraging one.