Wallabies dodge Eden Park in lead-up to Bledisloe test
And despite flying into New Zealand a week ago ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup series opener, some of the squad are yet to go there as internationals.
The Wallabies opted against a run on New Zealand’s house of pain on Friday, heading instead for Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland’s south.
Assistant coach Scott Wisemantel downplayed any funny business, saying the reason they bypassed Eden Park was due to the “fantastic gym” and facilities at Mt Smart.
“We’ve got 42 players and we’re running two to three squads,” he said.
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“(At Mt Smart) we could have meetings. We could gym. We could cater for everyone. We got a really meaningful training session today.
“The ground was perfect. It was brilliant.”
The Wallabies have trained in Tauranga until Friday.
In contrast, the All Blacks will enjoy a captain’s run on Eden Park on Friday afternoon ahead of the 7:05pm kick-off on Saturday.
The Wallabies haven’t won at Eden Park since 1986 – a run of 20 straight losses – and the All Blacks are undefeated there since 1994.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 5, 2021
There’s no talk of the hoodoo in camp, and Wisemantel said even last year’s matches – a 16-16 draw in Wellington and a 27-7 loss in Auckland – were “history”.
“The key emphasis for us … is about our job. Doing it well. With absolute clarity,” he said. “The game is going to have momentum swings. They all do. It’s just who can hold their nerve.
“Hopefully it’s close at the 60 (minute) mark and it’s just who can keep applying the pressure.”
Rennie’s side is internationally inexperienced: fullback Tom Banks, with 14 caps, is the most experienced man in a backline averaging just seven Tests each.
However, they take form and heart into the trans-Tasman series, closing out a 2-1 series victory over France last month.
Rennie, a Wellingtonian, flipped the switch from Australia’s Eden Park hoodoo to the expectations Kiwis place on the All Blacks when they play at home.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the challenge of taking on New Zealand at Eden Park, a place they’re expected to win whenever they play there,” he said.
“We have a great opportunity to show how tight we are as a group on Saturday night and create our own history.”
– Ben McKay
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