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'Lack of fear': How the Wallabies may have the mental edge over the All Blacks at Eden Park

By AAP
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

It’s one of sport’s most dominant records, but might sail right over the heads of the fresh-faced Wallabies preparing for their first Eden Park experience against the All Blacks on Sunday.

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Unbeaten in any Test at their Auckland fortress in 43 matches and 16 years, you have to go back to 1986 to find the All Blacks’ last loss to Australia at the ground.

With no COVID-19 restrictions and 40,000 tickets already sold and a capacity crowd of nearly 50,000 expected, the stage is set for history to repeat.

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Why didn’t the All Blacks take the drop goal?

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Why didn’t the All Blacks take the drop goal?

But no current Australia or New Zealand player was even born in 1986 and, after impressing in a 16-16 draw in Wellington on Sunday, Dave Rennie’s men have shown they aren’t carrying any old wounds.

“It’s good for their confidence, but having said that, they don’t know any better,” Wallabies attack coach Scott Wisemantel told Big Sports Breakfast.

“There’s so many debutants, so many rookies here that they actually don’t know (about New Zealand’s dominance) which is great, fantastic.

“They’re just going in and going ‘okay, where’s this Eden Park, where is it, what do we do?’

“There’s a lack of fear; they’re willing to have a go and only thing I and the coaching staff wants out of them is to say ‘ease up’ or ‘pull it back’.”

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Wallabies halfback Nic White – at 30 a veteran of a side with an average age of 24 – said in his three previous visits it hasn’t just been the venue that has thwarted them.

“I’m not sure how much it is to do with the field and how much it is to do with the result,” he said.

“I’ve been there a few times off a couple of wins and a draw and I think that’s as much to do with the reaction of their group as it is to where we’re playing.

“I don’t think it matters where we play them this week, there’s going to be a reaction from them.

“This is a new group and we’re trying to talk about the reaction we want to get out of the game on the weekend, where we thought we could have taken a result.”

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Wisemantel said the squad’s bubble arrangement made it easy to avoid the media hype within New Zealand and stay one step ahead.

“You’ve got to be honest, paint the picture,” he said.

“They’re going to drop three or four players… we know that they’ll change something, that’s the first thing Kiwi teams do in this situation.

“So we say boys this is coming, what are we going to do about it.”

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J
Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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