Greg Bird’s cognitive dissonance could trip Australia up

Greg Bird’s remarks about revenge on the Kiwis in the Four Nations final speak volumes about the self-regard with which Australian rugby league sees itself.

Despite his team being outplayed by the Kiwis on Saturday in Brisbane, there is just no way he can see the natural order of things being changed.

In his worldview, England exist simply as fodder for the mighty Kangaroos, there simply to be swept away in another display of Australian superiority over everything in rugby league ever.

One might put his words down to mind games, but I don’t think that applies here. Like many, though far from all, in the Australian rugby league community, he simply cannot believe a world where the Kangaroos don’t dominate.

That, despite his team being battered by New Zealand and losing a home game 30-12.

The result was no fluke, either. New Zealand were the better team, and their performance fully justified a three-score margin of victory.

I think this is usually called ‘cognitive dissonance’, where reality contradicts someone’s worldview to such an extent that they simply cannot accept the evidence of their own eyes.

For years, the Kangaroos felt themselves invincible, with justification. You don’t win 16 consectutive tests without being outstandingly good.

But strip some key personnel away from the green and gold, as has happened this year, and the foundations begin to creak. The well-oiled machine of recent years started to backfire and break down a bit in Brisbane.

It would be wise for people in the Kangaroo camp to realise this, and focus on trying to win two games which now look very testing indeed.

Australia look more vulnerable than they have for years, and the Kiwis and England, as well as Samoa, can probably scent blood in the water.

Samoa proved on Saturday that they are no mugs, and ran England very close.

England went into that game ‘cold’, but still showed enough steel to win, after they were put under some serious Samoan pressure. Neither team looked like soft touches at all.

If Bird takes his dismissive attitude into the games against England and Samoa this time around, he may well get a shock.

If his team plays anything like they did on Saturday, then he definitely will.

Let’s hope England give Mr Bird a wake-up call in Melbourne. There would be a certain deliciousness to seeing Jammer, Lockers, big George, Daz, Josh H and a few others shove his words right back down his throat.

And I bet Samoa will have been paying attention as well…

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