By NZ Herald

Wallabies players Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto have responded to a New Zealand Herald column that claimed the Aussies are lacking “genuine hard men” after the All Blacks‘ dominant victory in the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park.

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The Wallabies went down to the All Blacks 27-7 with the hosts having the better of the physical battle, following an underwhelming performance in the drawn first test in Wellington.

During the clash, Tupou was targeted by All Blacks hooker Dane Coles, who instigated some niggle with the ‘Tongan Thor’ in the opening minutes.

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James O’Connor and Nic White speak to media ahead of Bledisloe Cup III

Coles also taunted Salakaia-Loto with a pat on the back after the Aaron Smith scored the All Blacks’ first try of the match.

Those incidents prompted Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul to suggest Australia “don’t do genuine hard men” and that Tupou “was nowhere near as tough as he thought”.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald ahead of the Wallabies’ third Bledisloe clash against the All Blacks this weekend, Tupou responded to those criticisms.

“It doesn’t really matter what they say to us, to be honest,” Tupou said. “They don’t know what’s going on here in camp. If that’s what they think, so be it. We’re trying to focus on us. Trying to better ourselves for the next game.

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“We know what happened last week. It’s time to move on. We will worry more about winning the [Bledisloe Cup] rather than talk. We’re done talking. It’s just about trying to win the [Bledisloe] Cup.”

Tupou also showed his respect for Coles, but admitted the Kiwi hooker has a mouth on him.

“That was the first time. Dane is a legend,” Tupou said. “He’s a really good player and it’s always a really good challenge against him but man, he can throw some chat.”

Salakaia-Loto also had some choice words at the Wallabies’ critics.

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“I wouldn’t listen to what they say. The people that are making those comments are probably the ones that have never played before,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s in one ear, out the other. I really couldn’t care less.”

The Wallabies forward echoed his teammate’s sentiment, saying he welcomes the niggle Coles provides.

“It’s only natural. You’re going to come up against guys who build their game off a lot of s*** talk and all of that,” Salakaia-Loto said.

“You can’t expect to play against nice guys who are going to pat you on the back and say you had a good run or tell you after you’ve hit them that you’ve made a good tackle. It’s nothing new. I’ve played with a few boys like that as well. It’s part of the game.”

The third Bledisloe Cup test between the All Blacks and Wallabies takes place this Saturday at 9.45pm in Sydney.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission

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