NZ view: Genuine progress, or another false dawn for Aussie rugby?

Optimism in Australian rugby is rising as fast as sea levels.

No matter the Wallabies fortunes, confidence never seems in short supply. Is this latest swagger of buoyancy justified, or merely another false dawn?

At this point, it's too early to say for sure. Market forces dictate retaining top tier talent remains a major challenge.

It would pay, therefore, to not dive off the deep end and suggest the Aussies are back, only to find crocodile infested waters await.

Keep the budgie smugglers in the top draw for now, then.

The signs are, indeed, largely positive though.

Much of the renewed vibrancy surrounding the Australian game can be attributed to the Brumbies and a well overdue revival from the Waratahs.

That and the Round 11 Super Rugby Pacific results that propelled Australia to their first two victories against New Zealand opposition in the same weekend for eight years.

Success is relative. Given last year's horror trans-Tasman run, where the five Australian sides managed two wins from 25 attempts, this season is already a major improvement.

I firmly believe Australia does not possess the depth to support and sustain five competitive teams - the Blues embarrassing the Rebels 71-28 and the Crusaders thrashing the Force 42-17 in Perth last weekend further underlines that point.

The Reds, following three straight losses without James O'Connor and Taniela Tupou, are also in danger of tailing off in a bad way.

After the fallout from axing the Force in 2017, Rugby Australia is unlikely to ever touch that lightning rod again, though, particularly with the 2027 World Cup and 2029 women's global showpiece expected to soon be confirmed for their backyard.

The Brumbies could go a long way to further stoking the flames of hope in the next two weeks when they welcome the Crusaders and pace-setting Blues to Canberra.

Following three successive wins over Kiwi opposition, their latest triumph a dominant victory against the Chiefs in Hamilton, the Brumbies have every reason to be assured. They increasingly appear the real deal.

The Brumbies are a team that can seemingly do it all. Their pack, though, continues to set the tone through a superb set-piece, vaunted lineout maul and aggressive breakdown focus.

Last week they regularly disrupted a Chiefs pack that included six All Blacks - Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Tupou Vaa'i, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Angus Ta'avao and Josh Lord - through counter rucking and physicality.

Herein lies the blueprint for the Wallabies, too.

Brumbies No 8 Rob Valetini continues to come of age while former Waikato prospect Jahrome Brown is one of many loose forwards stating his case for national selection.

Behind that impressive platform Wallabies halfback Nic White and his Nigel Thornberry-esque moustache is savouring every moment.

White's kicking game schooled the Chiefs back three and with ball in hand he poses a constant threat to fringe defenders.

Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio was out of his depth when thrust into the test arena as a 20-year-old prospect. Two years on, his talent is starting to mature.

The Waratahs are a different scenario entirely. After a hapless, winless 2021 campaign first-year head coach Darren Coleman has instigated an immediate transformation.

Knocking over the Crusaders to register their first win against a Kiwi side in three years sparked wild celebration scenes in Sydney pubs. That vibe flows onto a campaign to "fill the hill" at Leichhardt Oval when they host the Hurricanes this weekend.

After scraping past Moana Pasifika last week, the Tahs would do well to keep their feet firmly planted but Izaia Perese's compelling form from centre is reason to be enthused.

From a national perspective, Dave Rennie's influence in attempting to bring the fractured Australian Super Rugby landscape under the same convivial roof over the last 18 months is beginning to bear fruit.

With the long-running interstate feuds, that's no easy feat. For the most part Australia finally has an aligned pathway to the Wallabies that includes specific focuses on fitness standards and skills.

Rennie was always going to need time to assert his vision but his presence, combined with Brumbies coach Dan McKellar as forwards mentor and Scott Wisemantel running the attack, bodes well for the Wallabies.

In Waratahs lock Jed Holloway and Christchurch-born flanker Charlie Gamble, Rennie has physically dominant forwards knocking on the door to put incumbents under pressure.

There's depth in the midfield, too, with Len Ikitau and Hunter Paisami joining Perese in the queue and while dynamic halfback Tate McDermott is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders leading the Reds, his brilliance is sure to return when he can simply focus on his own game for the Wallabies.

First-five remains Australia's major concern but Lolesio this week re-signing through to the end of 2024 is a notable win against the tide.

O'Connor is nearing his return from injury, too, and if Rennie can coax Quade Cooper and game-changing second-five Samu Kerevi back from Japan for the Test season, the Wallabies have the makings of a competitive squad for the World Cup.

Snatching the Bledisoe Cup for the first time in two decades is a tall order with victory needed in Melbourne and at Eden Park, where the Wallabies last prevailed in 1986, but upsetting the All Blacks is not out of the question.

Before then, the Brumbies have a genuine shot at the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific title and the Wallabies welcome England for three Tests in July at the end of their long season, and on the back of an underwhelming Six Nations campaign that acquired two wins from five matches.

Momentum appears to be building for Australian rugby. Now it must seize the day.