Kangaroos discover Four Nations identity
STEVE JANCETICNovember 16, 2009
We had the Invincibles and then came the Unbeatables. Now meet the Implacables, Australian rugby league's latest version of world-beaters.
While the victorious Four Nations squad may have fallen short of emulating the deeds of those 1982 and 86 Kangaroos sides, who earned their monikers courtesy of unbeaten runs through arduous two month tours of the UK and France, it's hard to disagree with the suitability of the Implacables tag.
Even better is the fact it was not self-appointed, but rather a description bestowed upon the tourists by French sports newspaper L'equipe after Australia's 42-4 win in Paris just over a week ago.
"I googled it," said Australian coach Tim Sheens after being shown the newspaper article.
"It's from old French. It's diehard, it's unyielding. Basically it's a strong group.
"It was something we could identify with."
Sheens relayed the new nickname to the squad just moments after the team had returned to the sheds following their 46-16 win over England in the tournament final in Leeds on Saturday night.
Having just engaged in a torrid 80 minutes of football followed by the obligatory spraying of winner's champagne, the message took a little while to settle in.
"Sheensy brought it up after the game ... that's what the French were calling us," skipper Darren Lockyer said.
"When he told us about it, we were sort of looking at each other."
Australia battled their way through the tournament - with a first up draw against New Zealand an early indication that they weren't going to get things all their own way.
Despite four tries in the last dozen minutes against England in the final turning the result into a trouncing, Sheens could only point to the first half performance against England in the preliminary rounds when they ran up a 26-0 scoreline as evidence of the Kangaroos at full tilt.
But typifying the Implacable tag, the side found ways to win.
"We were really struggling (in the final) to get out of our half at times, the penalty count was against us, lots of things," Sheens said.
"But that's when a good side stands up and this group have come together over the last month.
"I don't think we've played brilliant football, probably only the last 20 minutes of the first half against England, but really the way they held together is the great effort from this particular side ... they've hung in there for each other."
Veteran prop Petero Civoniceva admitted there were players amongst the group hailing the victorious campaign alongside premiership triumphs, particularly after the public backlash following their shock loss in last year's World Cup final.
"Because of the closeness of the group, it was just such a special campaign," said Civoniceva, who broke Johnny Raper's record for Test appearances for a forward with his 40th international on Saturday night.
"We came together and it was quite quick, we were straight into that Test against New Zealand.
"That's probably why we got the result we did and probably why it's up there (with premierships), just because of the bond that we have as a group."
After a day and night of celebrations in London on Sunday, the majority of the team were due to begin the long journey home on Monday night, arriving back in Australia on Wednesday morning.
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