Friday, 20 September, 2019

Wallabies eye history as All Blacks face World Cup pressure

All Black fullback  wing Ben Smith All Black fullback wing Ben Smith
Shannon Reynolds | 17 August, 2019, 13:10

The Wallabies' record win over the All Blacks in the opening Test last weekend has led to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen taking drastic measures.

"There's a lot of pride in the team".

Also missing from the squad this week is 108-cap prop Owen Franks, who has been replaced by Chiefs tighthead Nepo Laulala.

New Zealand has won 1,061 of 1,261, or 84%, of the tests it has played since its first in 1905, has won 114 of its 165 test against Australia and has won its last 18 tests against the Wallabies at Saturday's match venue in a streak stretching 33 years.

There are fears already the All Blacks are treading a similar path to the one they followed before their disastrous 1991 World Cup campaign.

"You're going to a place where many a generation of Wallaby hasn't won and coming up against a great New Zealand side for some silverware on the line". You strive to being the best you can be and if you play one test match, well that's better than the bloke who played none, isn't it?

This year has been an fantastic year so far for Fijian-born Sevu Reece.

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And he could play in his first Rugby World Cup next month. Crusaders teammate Bridge's three caps have all come off the bench, including two tries on debut against Japan past year. Hansen was happy to confirm that in front of a packed press conference at the All Blacks hotel today, perhaps to reinforce a message to all of his players that no one is safe only five weeks from the start of the World Cup. Whilst Rieko and Ben Smith are world-class players, we think these boys [Reece and Bridge] are capable of being world-class players too'.

Wallabies lock Rory Arnold said it was tough for big men to get low in the tackle and they would need to work harder not to stray on the wrong side of the rule.

The 22-year-old's contract with Irish club Connacht was ripped up and he looked like entering the rugby wilderness until the Crusaders offered a lifeline, for which he repaid them in spades with a competition-high 15 tries.

Hansen singled out Sam Whitelock to deliver on the leadership front, while he was unequivocal when asked what sort of all-round improvement he was looking for: '200%.

He added: "We didn't do any ... we may have done one". "There's a lot of pride in the team".

The "neck roll" question was raised - last week the Wallabies were guilty of using the illegal tactic of twisting an opponent's neck to clear him from a breakdown at least 14 times - by an Australian reporter, who asked, "Have you told the boys to cut out the neck rolls?"

The All Blacks announced today that they are sticking with the same loose forward trio of Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and Kieran Read, persisting with the Mo'unga/Barrett combination, while dropping Smith and Rieko Ioane for inexperienced wingers George Bridge and Sevu Reece. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

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