Memories of draw to ensure All Blacks respect for Wallabies
James Mortimer 19 Oct 2013 Getty Images
Preparation was missing that razor finish that All Blacks sides pride themselves on last season, and one can see when witnessing the efficiency of their training sessions this week there was clear there was an edge to proceedings.
Some All Blacks believe that let down team-mate Keven Mealamu, who toasted his 100th Test appearance in the black jersey that evening in Brisbane, while Steve Hansen felt it was also perhaps due to a lack of respect.
With no hint of insult Hansen said that it was a pitfall of playing when a team knew they were “marginally better” than their opponents.
The All Blacks record against Australia, with it now 11 years since the Wallabies last tasted Bledisloe Cup success, backs up the mental belief that the number one ranked side backs their ability and know with flawless preparation and subsequent execution they are very difficult to stop.
That draw remains the Wallabies best result in their last six meetings against the All Blacks, so ensuring that grip remained tight was paramount for a side that will not be willing to concede their first home defeat in four seasons.
“We respect Australia, they are one of our big rivals, but we also know at the moment that we have a slight advantage over them,” Hansen said.
“If we relax then we lose that advantage. So it's as much mental with our preparation this week as anything else.”
The All Blacks are looking to reach that heady ground where they are able to consistently deliver marquee performances match after match.
Richie McCaw suggests that is the hardest part, ensuring that you prepare mentally and physically to deliver – able to regain your feet faster and with more purpose than your rival, to click back into formation with more accuracy to allow your structures to reap rewards.
Hansen, who only welcomed the All Blacks back into camp this week, knows that a longer break than originally planned after their Ellis Park heroics has put the team in a good space.
The Wallabies may have only avoided a tournament wooden spoon with an impressive win in Rosario, but the tired Pumas team that almost seemed to play the Australians into form won’t be standing opposite them at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
It will be the All Blacks, who will approach this contest knowing a win equals a 30 Test win streak at home, while keeping alive the goal of achieving a perfect international season.
But first they will have to play against a Wallabies team that would celebrate victory in Dunedin as if it were a World Cup success, and for that the All Blacks have to be wary.
“We have to respect them totally and we have to prepare to the utmost of our ability,” Hansen said.
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