'Maybe those scars don't run so deep': Eden Park hoodoo irrelevant
Wallabies playmaker Matt To’omua says Australia will tap into the “ignorance of youth” after being scheduled to play two trans-Tasman clashes at their graveyard venue in Auckland.
In response to New Zealand’s new border settings, the All Blacks will now host back-to-back Tests at Eden Park – where they have won 20 straight against Australia – on August 7 and 14.
No current Wallabies squad member was alive when the Wallabies last won a Test against the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1986.
The series was originally scheduled to start in Auckland, head to Perth for Test two and conclude at Wellington’s Sky Stadium, where the Wallabies drew 16-16 with New Zealand last year.
The difficulties of entering NZ has necessitated playing two Tests to start the series, meaning the All Blacks could wrap up the Bledisloe before the series arrives in Australia.
The third and only Australia-hosted Bledisloe Cup Test in the three-match series has been delayed a week and will now be played on August 28 at Perth’s Optus Stadium.
The 43-man Wallabies squad that has landed in NZ has just five players over the age of 30, including 31-year-old To’omua.
The utility back, who has tasted defeat at Eden Park on five occasions during his 57-Test career, believes the young age profile of the Wallabies roster could be a benefit as they attempt to bust one of world sport’s longest-running hoodoos.
“One of the positives of this group is it’s a fairly new group, so maybe those scars don’t run so deep,” To’omua said.
“At the same time, I don’t think anyone is going there naive. It’s a place the All Blacks love to play and they play very well.
“We’ve got the ignorance of youth, which is quite a benefit to us in a way. We’re working on our own piece and belief and stuff like that.
“Ultimately that’s what you’ve got to do. You can’t read too much into the storyline or the narrative.
“As athletes you have to focus on your jobs.”
Prop James Slipper has experienced plenty of pain at Eden Park during his long career, and he would love nothing more than to break through for a win.
“People put it down to a bit of a hoodoo stadium for us,” Slipper said.
“I’ve been on the back end of some bad losses there.
“I’ve had motivation for over 10 years now to win there. I couldn’t think of anything better than winning at Eden Park.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to do it this game. I’m going to hopefully come out after the game and say it.”
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson denied that Eden Park had been selected because of the Wallabies’ abysmal record there.
An existing booking for a craft beer festival at Sky Stadium on August 14 meant NZR would have had to play on Sunday if they were to play in the capital.
BLEDISLOE CUP SCHEDULE
August 7 – Eden Park, Auckland
August 14 – Eden Park, Auckland*
August 28 – Optus Stadium, Perth*
* Also part of the Rugby Championship with Argentina, South Africa
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