Bledisloe Cup: New Zealand v Australia, Wellington
Wallabies must believe: McKenzie
August 23, 2013
Quade Cooper must be stronger mentally than most Wallabies given his likely reception by All Blacks fans © Getty Images
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has lauded the All Blacks for being among the most mentally strong teams in world sport, marvelling how the world champions continue to be ruthlessly efficient Test after Test just six years after they were pilloried as soft-centred chokers after yet another Rugby World Cup meltdown,
New Zealand will kick off the Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington with a 16-3 win-loss record over Australia in 20 trans-Tasman Tests dating back to their Rugby World Cup 2007 disappointment, when New Zealand were bundled out at the quarter-final stage as favourites. The All Blacks' recent dominance, capped by their Rugby World Cup 2011 triumph in New Zealand, hasn't abated since their 2009 series glitch against South Africa.
But McKenzie enjoyed a 50% success rate against New Zealand as a grizzled Test prop and then Wallabies assistant coach during the 1990s until 2003, and he likes to think his team can also rise to their immense challenge. But first they must believe. "The mental part of the game is very important," McKenzie said. "The All Blacks have earned the right to be the most complacent team in the world, but they are not. They always front up. Other teams in the world have to compete to be in the same space."
McKenzie said Australia's plans to overturn their 47-29 first Test loss started within the mind of each of the Wallabies players. "It's not just a matter of working on the training paddock ... everyone has to search inside yourself and find out where you are," he said. "That's what you have to do to be to be the best."
Veteran centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, meanwhile, stressed the Wallabies believed they could end a 12-year drought in New Zealand. But he said they could not repeat the sloppy mistakes in the lead-up to four of the world champions' six tries at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. "It's a game of fine margins but the All Blacks are good enough to exploit those fine margins if you give them the opportunity to," he said. "So we've had to tidy a few little things up."
Ashley-Cooper said that Australia must be far more ruthless at Westpac Stadium.
"It'd be nice to certainly finish off a linebreak," he said. "For us it's to get around the ball, support the ball and anticipate a bit better than what we did last Saturday night. Obviously linebreaks are great in a game, but it's important to convert those linebreaks. And it's what you do second and third phase post linebreaks."
He also referenced the score at the 50-minute mark last week, when the All Blacks led by just three points. "We were happy with a lot of areas of our game last Saturday night, but we gave away 47 points, and that's not acceptable in Wallabies standards."
© AAP with Sportal