The All Blacks are battling the threat of complacency as they look to put away the hurting Wallabies for a second successive Saturday in the Rugby Championship.
Rather than dwell on the ease of their 47-29 victory last week in Sydney, the New Zealanders have focused on where they did not perform to expectations, especially areas such as unnecessary penalties and a misfiring lineout.
“To be honest about our performance last week, the scoreboard looked OK, but there were things we weren’t happy with. We made sure we didn’t just gloss over them,” captain Richie McCaw said at training yesterday. “If you don’t get the prep right no matter what happened the week before things could change real quick.”
A win will put the All Blacks well on the road to retaining their Rugby Championship crown, with home and away Tests against South Africa and Argentina still to come.
They will also lock away the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby rivalry, for an 11th successive season.
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie said he was “angry” with last week’s effort, but in a concession that it was perhaps tactics and not the players at fault, McKenzie has retained the same starting lineup bar the injury-forced change that brings Scott Fardy on to the side of the scrum for Hugh McMeniman.
Wallabies’ skipper James Horwill indicated flyhalf Matt Toomua will now produce the kicking game used to great effect by the ACT Brumbies to get them to this year’s Super 15 final.
With territory gained, Horwill wanted his players to “have a dig” close to the All Blacks’ line and the talented Israel Folau brought into play more often.
“We want guys to back themselves if they feel there is something on. We don’t want to temper that in any sense,” he said.
Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia revealed plans to target novice playmaker Tom Taylor, the 24-year-old entrusted to be the All Blacks’ backline general in his debut Test.
“You have to. It’s someone playing his first Test and that’s something we’ll look to pressure him, and see how he copes with the decision making and controlling of their game,” Genia said.
It is an attack that McCaw is expecting, referring to the Wallabies as “dangerous” when cornered.
“They’re proud men and they’ll come out and get stuck in,” he said.