logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
Australia

Wallabies keep low profile in Auckland as they attempt the impossible

Australia will attempt to break a 33-year Eden Park drought and bring home the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 in wet and cold conditions.

Winter is coming, according to New Zealand's meteorologists, with westerlies and rain expected to push in on the iconic venue to make the unlikely, impossible: beating the most dominant team in international rugby for the past decade at their spiritual home.

The Wallabies bounced through their captain's run, but no players fronted the media.

The Wallabies bounced through their captain's run, but no players fronted the media.Credit:AAP

That's for the onlookers to worry about. The Wallabies bounded on to the turf at Eden Park on Friday afternoon and laughed and joked through their warm-up. The rain spat sideways at them occasionally but with Silverchair's Tomorrow blasting from the stadium sound system they were a bouncing gold mass of optimism against the Auckland gloom.

As Steve Hansen cruelly quipped in the game's build up, he's never met an Australian with self doubt.

But for the first time in too long, Australian rugby fans have more than blind faith on which to pin their hopes.

Loading

Scott Barrett's red card may have allowed the score to blow out to record proportions in Perth last week but if Australia can reproduce the attitude and accuracy that had them leading 13-12 when Jerome Garces reached into his pocket then the sell-out Auckland crowd could be in for a clash for the ages.

Not that there was a player or coach prepared to venture as much. The Wallabies have laid as low this week as a New Zealand rugby league fan during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

They arrived late on Thursday night and even changed their usual line up for media duties, offering up quietly spoken forwards coach Simon Raiwalui for the traditional captain's press conference.

Raiwalui, a former Fiji international who was born and raised in Tempe, in Sydney's inner-south, predicted what everyone knows is coming from New Zealand.

Loading

"We're under no illusions about what we face," he said. "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. But we're worried about what we can provide."

Adam Coleman is Australia's only change to the starting team from Perth. The loss of Rory Arnold, only last week placed by Phil Kearns in the same canon as injured All Blacks great Brodie Retallick, is a big one for the Wallabies, given his finely balanced mix of physicality and work rate.

But Coleman's performance off the bench was an encouraging hint that the big Rebels second-rower could be nearing his imperious best again. Just in time, some might say, to help manufacture a miracle at Eden Park.

The All Blacks, still smarting from the indignity of losing to those cocky Aussies, will be out to assert their dominance, but will have to do it with some less familiar combinations.

Loading

The back row combination of Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Kieran Read will have another chance to hit its stride, veteran Sam Whitelock will partner with youngster Patrick Tuipulotu and Nepo Laulala will be the new face in the Kiwi front row.

Raiwalui wasn't reading anything into it.

"Those guys have been together for long enough that they've worked together in training. They've been together the same amount of time as us and worked with different combinations," he said. "The guys that are stepping in are all quality players, all world class, and they're just going to step up and be worried about their game."

Much has been made of Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane's absence, with Sevu Reece and George Bridge stepping in to fill the experience gap with perpetual motion and razor sharp skills.

But the wet conditions could put another pair of outside backs under the pump, with Kurtley Beale and Marika Koroibete likely to receive an uptick of traffic down their channels.

"It will be a little bit slippery," Raiwalui said. "But I think it's two good teams, quality players and you make do with whatever the conditions are. We’ve got our game plan, we’ve worked on it all week and we’ll adjust accordingly if it is very wet."

All rights and copyright belongs to author:
Themes
ICO