The Wallabies have laid the challenge to the All Blacks ahead of Sunday’s eagerly-awaited Bledisloe Cup return bout in Auckland, claiming they were only a six out of 10 in the epic series-opening draw last weekend.
Excitement is at fever pitch across the Tasman, with New Zealand’s demanding rugby fans expecting the All Blacks to hit back hard after narrowly avoiding a first loss on home soil to Australia in 19 years.
And Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa says the three-time world champions will most certainly need to lift as Dave Rennie’s new-era line-up look to shift up a gear themselves.
“Probably a six,” Alaalatoa said when asked on Wednesday to rate the Wallabies’ performance in the 16-all stalemate in Wellington.
“The initial emotion when we came into the change room was disappointment. A lot of boys are disappointed we didn’t come away with the win. We gave ourselves a lot of opportunity to win, we just didn’t execute.
One of Australia's best performers over the weekend is expecting to be targeted by the All Blacks as they look to shut the Wallabies down in Sunday's second Bledisloe Cup test. #BledisloeCup #NZLvAUS https://t.co/tj6wSJsYjP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 13, 2020
“That attitude has definitely carried into this week and understanding where we can be better.”
The All Blacks have a history of administering swift retribution following sub-par performances, as most recently evidenced last year when following up a 47-26 loss to the Wallabies in Perth with a 36-0 hammering seven days later in Auckland.
But the Wallabies, too, are vowing to up the ante.
“We’ve only been together for three weeks and a lot of that three weeks has been about getting to know each other, getting to learn a new structure and ways that our coaching staff want us to play, you know, learning moves,” Alaalatoa said.
“So that main outcome of last week was to make sure we go out and execute as best we can and then learning from that game, there were a lot of learnings there.
“Little things hurt us, especially our breakdown. We can improve this week to make sure that, firstly, our preparation and then our intent is there on Sunday.”
Needing to win to avoid heading to Australia for the last two games of the series 1-0 behind, Alaalatoa knows the All Blacks will be “up for it” and that these are the games he lived to be a part of.
“As a kid you always grow up to play Test rugby. It’s a dream come true when you get to pull on the jersey, especially when you’re born and raised in Australia,” the prop said.
“Any Bledisloe is a dream come true to be involved in.”
Both teams will have Thursday off before Rennie and All Blacks coach Ian Foster name their respective teams on Friday.
– Darren Walton
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