Overturning a mediocre run of recent results in Australia will be key to New Zealand’s chances of retaining the Bledisloe Cup for yet another year.
Just how they do that, though, remains to be seen, with All Blacks captain Sam Cane conceding he is unsure why his side have maintained a win rate of just 50 percent against the Wallabies across the ditch since 2011.
Compare that to their home record against the same opposition, and one will find that the reigning Bledisloe Cup holders haven’t tasted defeat to their trans-Tasman rivals on home soil in 18 years.
The closest the Wallabies have come to an elusive victory in New Zealand came earlier this month when not even close to 10 minutes of injury time could separate the teams from a 16-all draw in Wellington.
It’s that stalemate that has left the four-match series wide open, despite the All Blacks trumping 27-7 at Eden Park a fortnight ago, giving them a leg up in what has now effectively become a three-game series.
That leaves the Wallabies needing to win their next two tests against the All Blacks over the next eight days if they are to break a 17-year Bledisloe Cup hoodoo.
Cane and his teammates, meanwhile, need just the one win to keep the trophy in New Zealand, a feat of which they can achieve in Sydney on Saturday.
Considering they have lost two of their last three clashes against the Wallabies in Australia, however, winning in enemy territory is something that Cane isn’t taking lightly.
“We’ve alluded to that our record in Australia probably isn’t as good as it is in New Zealand, so there’s no hiding from that,” he told reporters on Friday.
“Australia is a tough place to play in and they’ve got a pretty good record and it’s a pretty unique situation, particularly in my time in the All Blacks, with the way the schedule’s worked out.
“It’s always been test matches in Aussie first, followed by New Zealand, so when it comes to the Bledisloe and crunch games, they’ve been on New Zealand soil, so the shoe’s on the other foot here this weekend, but we’re pretty excited by that challenge.”
It's been seven years since Jack Goodhue last played schoolboy rugby, but he is set to face off against his former 1st XV midfield partner in Bledisloe Cup III. #BledisloeCup #AUSvNZL https://t.co/DezHWs80jM
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 30, 2020
Given the way in which the Tri Nations and Rugby Championship has been scheduled in recent years, the All Blacks haven’t actually secured the Bledisloe Cup in Australia since 2009.
Being handed the chance to buck that trend is something Cane describes as “awesome”, but he knows securing victory against a resurgent Wallabies side under the tutelage of Dave Rennie won’t come easily.
“It would be pretty wicked to hold that trophy up, but we know it will be a heck of a challenge and we’re going to have to dig pretty deep to get there,” Cane said.
“[We’re] not spending too much energy or time focusing on the end result, more focused on the process of how we can go about getting there.”
With six wins from their last 12 outings on the western side of the Tasman, Cane will be hoping to prevent the Wallabies from picking up their fifth win in front of their home crowd over that same period.
Two draws in 2012 and 2014 make up for the other two results in that timespan, with Cane left unsure as to why his side have struggled for success in their neighbour’s backyard.
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” the 28-year-old, playing in his third test as full-time captain of the All Blacks, said when asked about his team’s woes in Australia.
“I suppose it’s one of those things, you look at any team who plays on home soil compared to away.
“The records are normally in favour of those teams that are at home with some of the normalities of being at home, [with a] home crowd.
“I’m not sure. All those little things, they probably add up when it comes to high performance sport. It’s only small margins and they might influence it. I’m not too sure, but it’ll be up to us to make sure it [losing in Australia this weekend] doesn’t happen.”
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