Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Christchurch, August 7
Wallabies reject hoodoo claims
August 6, 2010
Will Genia insists the All Blacks are 'beatable' © Getty Images
The Wallabies have rejected the notion that the All Blacks hold a hoodoo-like advantage over them, claiming that the end of their eight-game Bledisloe Cup losing-streak is nigh.
Australia's latest attempt to beat their trans-Tasman rivals arrives in Christchurch on Saturday night, where the Wallabies will look to bounce back from a 49-28 hiding in Melbourne last weekend.
But Australia were handicapped in that match by Drew Mitchell's sending off early in the second half, which has since been deemed incorrect by IRB due to the unfair award of a yellow card in the first half, and the Wallabies' gallant effort with 14 men has convinced them they are capable of matching the All Blacks.
Adam Ashley-Cooper has started in all eight consecutive losses to the All Blacks - a streak that will match the all-time record if it is extended to nine - but he shot down the idea that the Wallabies were a beaten side before they even step onto the pitch.
"It's not a mental block. We believe we can beat this New Zealand team," Ashley-Cooper said. "Obviously my last eight encounters haven't been so successful but it's not a hoodoo for us, it just presents a bigger challenge and one that Australians embrace and enjoy."
If the Australians indeed get past the mental hurdle, there is still the matter of beating the All Blacks in terms of ability and power. He said coach Robbie Deans has given them the means of doing just that in Christchurch.
"I would say that New Zealand have performed out of their skin and are playing the best rugby they have over the last couple of years," he said. "This week (Deans) has given us a licence to be very aggressive. And that's important, to bring that intensity. If we're aggressive and focused for the whole 80 and hold onto the ball, that will put us in a good position to get a result."
New Zealander Deans admitted the All Blacks thrived on a scenario where they held the wood over their opposition.
Deans said: "Success breeds success, there's no doubt about that. That's why there's a number of nations around the world that have never beaten the All Blacks. They use that to their own advantage and they get the benefit of that in a number of ways."
Scrum-half Will Genia agreed with Ashley-Cooper that Australia at least believe they can upset the All Blacks, citing their rallying performance after Mitchell's sending off as a turning point of sorts.
''Yes, the All Blacks are beatable,'' Genia told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''I say that purely from the fact that we showed it when we had 14 players on the field in Melbourne during the second half. We can beat them. We know we're a good enough side to score points and keep the All Blacks out of it. And we can do it. It's just all about consistency for 80 minutes. And in the end, if you don't think you can win, you shouldn't be here at all.''
Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom has identified the All Blacks' tendency to get their bodies into positions - by legal means or other - that slow down Genia's release of the ball from the breakdown as a key area in Saturday's match.
"You've got to move those bodies as best you can, whether they're on our side or attacking the ball, you have to clear that space for Willie (Genia)," Elsom told NZPA. "That was definitely an issue for us, bodies around the ruck. Anything that takes the sting out of your attack is not going to help. This tournament (Tri-Nations) has three very different packs but whichever pack gets on top goes a long way towards winning the match.