Will Genia says winning the Bledisloe is the “pinnacle” and puts it above lifting the World Cup.
Asked what it would mean to pick up the trophy with victory over the All Blacks, Genia responded emphatically – “everything”.
“I can only speak from my personal point of view and for me, I’d have to say it’s the pinnacle”, the scrum half said.
“The World Cup is obviously up there, but how often do you get to play the best team in the world three times and have to win two out of three to win a trophy?”
His record against New Zealand is pretty bleak, with just three wins in 20 matches, “I’ve been trying for a while now so really looking forward to another crack.”
“I will say for me it’s the number one priority because they are the best team in the world for the last 15-20 years, back-to-back World Cup winners. You have to beat them two times out of three to win that trophy, so for me that makes it incredibly difficult and also will make it incredibly special if we’re fortunate enough to do it.”
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Hodge has emerged as the frontrunner for the number 13 shirt after Michael Cheika left Curtis Rona out of his squad for the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.
The 23-year-old is not the only option in midfield, though, with Israel Folau also a possibility, but Beale believes Hodge – who scored the winning penalty against the All Blacks in October – should get the nod.
“Reece is obviously a very versatile player and I’m sure if given an opportunity will step up and do a fine job,” Beale said.
“Israel’s obviously played there during Super Rugby as well and I’m sure he’ll be able to get the job done as well.
“I’m pretty confident that whoever we put in that position they’ll be pretty keen to get out there and express themselves and get the job done for the team.”
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Hodge remains in the dark about his chances and knows things could easily change in the coming days as Australia step up their preparations.
“There’s still a few guys in the squad who can play 13,” he said. “Izzy’s [Folau] still an option as well.
“At the moment, throughout the preparation, the last few weeks have been about trying as many combinations we can to get comfortable playing next to everyone who’s in the squad and I think it’s going to be really important for us come game one.
“Cheika’s still got a week to change his mind about selections, so who knows, but we’re prepared as best we can be for Saturday.”
Whoever starts for Australia will come up against an All Blacks side without Sonny Bill Williams, but Beale says that makes little difference given the strength in depth Steve Hansen has at his disposal.
“The All Blacks are a world class team, they’re the number one team in the world for a reason. Whoever they put in any position they step up and get the job done,” he added.
“The big focus has been on us at the moment. We’re well aware of the capabilities they’ll bring on the weekend, but we know that if we have a full focus on what we want to deliver out there that will allow us to get the result that we want.”
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