New Zealand v Australia, Tri-Nations, September 19
Wallabies relishing another shot
September 18, 2009
George Smith is looking forward to another shot at the All Blacks © Getty Images
George Smith believes that the Bledisloe Cup is losing none of its lustre despite the multiple contests between New Zealand and Australia that now litter the international landscape.
The veteran back-row will lead Australia against the All Blacks in the final Tri-Nations Test of the season on Saturday, with a money-spinning fourth Bledisloe Cup showdown still to come in Tokyo at the end of October.
Smith has played 22 Tests against the All Blacks since his debut in 2001, but maintains that the will to win has not deteriorated over time.
"We do play them a lot within a year, but the excitement doesn't wane," he said. "It's always been a pinnacle for Australian players to play against the All Blacks in the Bledisloe.
"Playing the All Blacks is not like playing any other team. There is a special meaning there. The desire to beat them doesn't change and tomorrow will be no different. The boys will be out there to try and win this match. As history has shown we haven't beaten them too many times over here in New Zealand so it's a great opportunity for us to do that."
Smith's sentiments were echoed by his back-row accomplice Rocky Elsom, who maintained that the clogged fixture list allowed for one thing that the Wallabies love - trying to beat the All Blacks.
"Whether adding a few more games would be overkill, you probably think it would be but for us, we like the opportunity," Elsom said. "When we go to play the northern hemisphere sides we have an advantage because we play the best sides over and over. And of course every game is an opportunity to beat [the All Blacks] and we like doing that."
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is expecting a full-blooded Test match in Wellington, with his young side not being burdened with Australia's poor away record against their Trans-Tasman rivals.
"The points table is not relevant. It's pride and honour and neither side will want to come second. I don't think either side will play conservatively," he said. "Obviously our history isn't that great in New Zealand but I guess the thing you get with a young group is that they are not burdened by the past.
"They are very excited about the opportunity that they have and I think they showed that in Brisbane. We're hopeful that that will have been a fillip for them and that some of that will have galvanised into a deeper seated belief because when you look at the history that has been a contributing factor, that lack of belief."