New Zealand v Australia, Bledisloe Cup
Steve Hansen wary of confident Wallabies
October 18, 2013
Steve Hansen believes the All Blacks are better for having had a shorter preparation for Bledisloe III © Getty Images
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is wary of the Wallabies' all-or-nothing mindset going into the third Bledisloe Cup Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, where they have nothing but reputations on the line.
Hansen is distinctly uncomfortable after the two comfortable wins over Australia in August that secure the Bledisloe Cup for another year, anxious that his players might ease off mentally after their memorable win over the Springboks in Johannesburg two weeks ago. He is also convinced the Wallabies will be more potent opponents than was the side that, he says, played without self-belief in their early Tests under Ewen McKenzie.
Australia's 54-17 hammering of Argentina in Rosario two weeks ago will have lifted a burden, Hansen said.
"One of the big problems they've had is a lack of confidence, which is unusual for Australia," he said. "They've scored seven tries [in Rosario] and they're feeling a lot better about themselves so that will make them a lot more dangerous. And they've got nothing to lose, so we've got to respect them totally."
Hansen's theme in Dunedin has been to avoid the mistake made in the "dead-rubber" third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane last year. Hansen described as substandard the team's performance in drawing that match 18-18, blaming a preparation which he said was too long after Tests in Argentina and South Africa.
The squad assembled in Dunedin this week just four days out from the Test, giving the players a longer break after The Rugby Championship finale at Ellis Park.
"We felt like we were mentally OK last year but, really, we weren't, we were kidding ourselves," Hansen said. "We respect Australia immensely, they're one of our big rivals, but we also know at the moment that we've got the advantage, ever so slightly, over them. But if we relax, we lose that advantage."
All Blacks: Israel Dagg; Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam; Samuel Whitelock, Jeremy Thrush; Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Tom Taylor.
Follow live text commentary of the Bledisloe Cup Test between New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, October 19 from 7pm (NZDT), 5pm (AEDT) and 6am (GMT)
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