International team of the week
15. Israel Dagg (New Zealand) Photo: AFP
Sport, and the careers of countless individuals, revolve around ''what ifs'', missed opportunities and seizing the moment.
What if Wales five-eighth Rhys Priestland had grabbed that wild pass from his captain Sam Warburton in the 61st minute of the Test with a three-man overlap outside him? What if he hadn't fumbled it and Wales had gone on to score to take the lead?
What if shortly after the Welsh defence hadn't been bamboozled by some terrific sleight of hand by Wallabies halfback Will Genia in the lead-up to the Pat McCabe try that instigated another triumph at their favourite venue - Suncorp Stadium?
If only … Wales five-eighth Rhys Priestland fumbles. Photo: AP
What if the Wallabies had gone through their usual rigmarole and fell apart in the final minutes - which was highly likely considering the calibre of their opposition, who through becoming Six Nations grand slam victors know everything about winning tight ones?
I can assure you if any of the above had occurred the state of Australian rugby would be far more dire than it is today.
The Wallabies win, and they merrily travel to Melbourne with heads held high. Players were again laughing. The coach was even cracking gags. Life was absolutely spiffing. This had a lot to do with the whole group knowing how close they were to being marched towards the guillotine.
Had the Wallabies lost, yesterday would have been D-day for the code. There would have been high-level meetings, secret gatherings, Deep Throat phone calls. There would have been discussions over whether it was time to consider dramatic midseason changes, going right to the top. Questions would have certainly been asked at the Australian Rugby Union whether it was time to seriously contemplate an alternative for head coach Robbie Deans.
The loss to Scotland in Newcastle on Tuesday night had irritated senior ARU figures. Those in charge at St Leonards don't like to be shown to be second rate, or their decisions revealed as faulty.
Criticism of staging a Tuesday Test was widespread, but even more venomous was the public anger towards a team that could not put away the 12th-ranked side in the world. While Deans had the excuse of having only a few days to prepare, his growing number of detractors countered that he actually had several months to prepare for the Newcastle experience.
Long-time supporters of the game were even hoping the Welsh belted the Wallabies, believing it would be the only way for the code to be cleaned up.
Adding to the instability was that some hours before the Brisbane Test, the David Nucifora-led Australian under-20 team had lost to Argentina 15-3 in the junior world championships in South Africa.
It was bloodletting time. One almighty explosion was looming. However, as the Wallabies have so often done, they performed when it was absolutely imperative, outpacing the Welsh, and with it Deans is safe (for the time being) while several out-of-form players chose the moment to remind all they are of Test quality.
This has given the Wallabies some breathing space. But there's no time to relax - if they lose the next two Tests to Wales, fear, loathing and reprisals are inevitable.
Those who have hung around this team a long time know they are the masters of dropping their standards when the pressure is off them. For decades, the Wallabies have failed to reach their full potential because they can't back up.
This time around there is the tantalising attraction of playing the same quality opposition three times in a row. This just adds to the tension, improves the tactical strategies and heightens the drama.
Tuesday Tests don't work, but three-Test series certainly do. It just adds to the Coliseum ''throw them to the lions'' effect.