Wallabies out to end losing streak in NZ
Not resting on their laurels, the Wallabies have swiftly reset their sights on breaking a decade-long victory drought against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
NOT resting on their laurels, the Wallabies have swiftly reset their sights on breaking a decade-long victory drought against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
The Australians followed their 39-20 Tri Nations drubbing of South Africa in Sydney on Saturday night by relocating to the Gold Coast for an intense 10-day training block designed to have them primed to meet the world’s top-ranked side in Auckland in two weeks.
Australia have lost their past 11 Tests in New Zealand and haven’t won at Auckland’s Eden Park in a quarter of a century.
“It’s great for us now. We get a week to regroup and really home in and focus on that game,” Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said.
“It’s a key game for us now. We haven’t had a lot of success at Eden Park, but we’ve got a great opportunity to really target that game and make the most of it.”
Apart from being desperate to break the hoodoo in the last trans-Tasman showdown before the Rugby World Cup kicks off in New Zealand in less than six weeks, victory over the All Blacks on home soil would give the Wallabies a psychological edge over their fierce rivals.
And having finally snapped a 10-Test losing streak against the All Blacks in Hong Kong last November, Deans believes his side is far better placed to triumph in New Zealand than during his previous three years at the helm.
“But within that belief there’s just no point in presuming that you’re going to be any further ahead in that game itself,” he said.
Goalkicking winger James O’Connor, still only 21 but already with 28 Test caps, wasn’t even born the last time Australia won in Auckland in 1986 and said the so-called bogy ground held no fears for the new-age Wallabies.
“It’s going to be an awesome: Eden Park, where the World Cup’s going to be played, so looking forward to it,” O’Connor said.
“I’ve only played there once. We were on the losing end that time, but it’s a whole new year.
“The All Blacks are still setting the benchmarks in Test rugby so it’s going to be a special game.”
Kurtley Beale could miss the match after arriving at Sydney airport on Sunday looking like he’d been mugged.
The classy fullback was limping from a twisted ankle, sporting a black eye and four stitches in his head and had his left shoulder in a sling courtesy of Saturday night’s bruising battle with the Springboks.
“Kurtley’s a bit banged up. He probably came out of the game in the poorest shape of the group,” Deans said.
“I don’t think the ankle’s too bad. So that should recover. His shoulder should also recover, but he’s just sore right now.”
Deans also said he was unlikely to have any of his other 10 or so injured or recovering World Cup hopefuls available.
Reserve halfback Luke Burgess and prop Salesi Ma’afu are slight possibilities to make a return, but are more likely to be available for Australia’s return clash with South Africa in Durban on August 13.
Deans was hopeful that forwards Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau and James Slipper would come under consideration for the final Tri Nations Test against New Zealand in Brisbane on August 27 and that winger Drew Mitchell would also be back running when the Wallabies returned from South Africa.
He said outside centre Rob Horne was returning to club rugby this weekend and remained in the World Cup mix along with midfielder Berrick Barnes, who made a successful comeback for Sydney University on Saturday.