The Wallabies have adopted a deliberate low-key approach to ending their Bledisloe Cup heartache, ignoring the wall of history in front of them if they’re to topple the All Blacks for a second time.
Tunnel vision has been a recurring theme for Michael Cheika’s team as they eye what’s needed to end 17 years without the prized trans-Tasman trophy.
While pressure has mounted daily on the All Blacks following the record 47-26 boilover in Perth, the Wallabies have laid low in Melbourne, quietly plotting how they can repeat the dose at their Eden Park graveyard on Saturday.
Their arrival to Auckland was deliberately late and they surprised journalists by putting quietly-spoken assistant coach Simon Raiwalui up for media duties on match eve.
Raiwalui insisted Australia’s players hadn’t spoken about the Cup drought, even those who had long tired at their lack of success.
It’s 22 Tests since the Wallabies have beaten the hosts on New Zealand soil and 33 years since they’ve done so in Auckland.
“Obviously there’s a history but we’ve been solely focused on what’s in front of us. It’s all in the present,” Raiwalui said.
“We’re under no illusions about what we face. It’s a great All Black team full of quality players and they’re going to come out and they’re going to be fizzing.”
Continue reading below…
Despite the emphatic nature of the Perth performance – New Zealand had never conceded 47 points in a Test – bookmakers have installed Australia as five-to-one outsiders this week.
Those odds might even creep further out if forecast rain arrives before kick-off, with Australia having based last week’s win on a ball-in-hand approach that frustrated the world champions.
They forced the All Blacks to attempt 198 tackles, of which an unusually high 38 were missed.
Wet weather would turn the Test into a kicking contest and, more to the point, a forward arm wrestle.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has demanded a “200 per cent” improvement from his pack but forwards coach Raiwalui was confident the Wallabies eight could match their committed and accurate performance of a week earlier.
Rory Arnold, a towering presence in Perth, has been ruled out with injury but Raiwalui said promoted starting Adam Coleman was a proven performer and Rob Simmons’ return bolstered the bench.
“It’s a position of strength for us. It’s unfortunate because Rory was playing well but it’s great to have those guys come in.
“We had a good weekend last weekend but it’s a job half done. We’ve been really concentrating on ourselves, getting better and getting better at the things we can control.”
Coleman’s return means six members of Australia’s starting pack also ran out at Eden Park last year, when they were outclassed 40-12 and four of New Zealand’s six tries were scored by Beauden Barrett.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.