K ia ora bro. It's New Zealand here. Love us or hate us, we're related. By ancestral blood; by adjacency; and by our inexplicable, red-blooded passion for chasing a gonad-shaped ball around an overpopulated paddock. When it comes down to it, we're brothers. And let's face it. Brothers love nothing more than kicking each other's backsides.
Like most little brothers, we live in your shadow. It was our former prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon who said New Zealand was founded by those who had the initiative to escape from Australia, but it's perhaps no surprise that a lot of us are flying across the ditch to break back inside. We have nobody who looks even remotely like Lara Bingle. The Wollongong RSL's social cricket squad would trounce our national side. You earn more than us. You get more sun. How can we compete?
Yet, apparently, all this isn't enough; you then go and adopt virtually all gifted Kiwis as Australian - Russell Crowe, Split Enz, John Clarke, Phar Lap, the pavlova. That's why we invented Tall Poppy Syndrome - so that the moment a fellow Kiwi becomes successful enough to be misappropriated by you Aussies, we've already disowned them.
And it's only fair that overachievers feel more at home in a nation where overachieving comes naturally. Just look at your native fauna. You have a badass species of dog, a bear that fits in a rucksack, a marsupial named after Satan who inspired a Looney Tunes character, and the frankly awesome wombat. Your various football teams are named after creatures that have pogo sticks for limbs, know how to box, and have a front pocket in which to store their young.
New Zealand, on the other hand, has the flightless, cowardly, endangered kiwi, a mountain parrot that's teetering on the precipice of extinction, and a giant emu-like bird that is already extinct. We don't even allow snakes, because they'd gobble the eggs of our few remaining mascots.
It's little wonder then that we're so insecure. This is why we cling to the faintest of praise, and fush - I mean fish - rather desperately for compliments. Every time a Hollywood star so much as mutters our nation's name, we blush, swoon, and stop the press. Should it ever surface that Barack Obama favoured New Zealand-made toilet paper, we'd gush breathlessly from the top of Mount Cook that we were wiping the presidential posterior.
Sure, you could argue that we've got the more beautiful scenery. We have Middle Earth; you have a big red rock in the desert. But we can't personally take credit for our landscape, unless we can prove somehow that Mother Nature was a Kiwi. We need to leverage our national pride from something we achieved ourselves, and milking Lord of the Rings and Flight of the Conchords begins to wear thin before long.
And that's why we invest our entire nation's self-worth in the high-performing, but high-risk, stocks of our national rugby team.
Sure, you Wallabies beat us every now and then. But you're always a tad surprised when you pull it off. It can be argued that statistically, the All Blacks are the greatest major international sporting team that has ever existed. Our winning record is superior to Canada at ice hockey, Brazil at football, and even your baggy greens under Steve ''Tugga'' Waugh. Our average score is double that of our opposition. Only five teams have ever beaten us.
The problem is, you're one of them. And you have this knack of doing it at the most inconvenient times when everyone is watching. Twice you've beaten us in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals and stopped us from claiming what we think is rightfully ours.
So you'd think we'd be relieved that, following your loss to Ireland, there's every chance you'll be knocked out by the Springboks in the quarter-finals, and we'll never cross paths during what is probably the last cup we'll ever host. Well, we're not relieved.
All it means is that when we lift the trophy on October 23, you'll be there right behind us, patting us on the back, saying "Onya cobber - a bit lucky though."
"Whaddya mean, lucky?"
"Lucky you didn't have to play us."
And for four more years, you'll be in our ear, reminding us that you beat us on our last meeting before the cup, and that therefore the trophy is rightfully yours.
We can't bloody well have that. So come the quarters, we'll be rooting for you.
That's what bros are for.
Anthony Frith is a freelance writer.
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