All Blacks wary of besieged Oz

2014-10-16 09:08
Steve Hansen (AFP)

Brisbane - The All Blacks are fearing a backlash from the beleaguered Wallabies in this weekend's final Bledisloe Cup Test, coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday.

Hansen and his backline general Conrad Smith are expecting Australia to be motivated to bounce back after the text scandal involving star back Kurtley Beale, internal ructions and speculation over Ewen McKenzie's coaching future.

But Hansen did warn that his world champions, smarting from their first loss in 23 Tests to South Africa in Johannesburg a fortnight ago, were primed to make Australia suffer even more if they were not prepared to play for each other.

"When a team is under siege as they are at the moment then one of two things can happen," Hansen told reporters ahead of Saturday's Test in Brisbane.

"Either they unite and come out and play really well or they crumble to the pressure of it. I don't see them crumbling. They're too good of a team.

"Our job is to go out and put as much pressure as we can on the park and that's what we're trying to do."

Hansen, who has a cagey reputation for his pre-match goading of the Wallabies, was not prepared to take a poke at his arch trans-Tasman rivals.

He expressed the hope that the Wallabies could quickly resolve their issues because southern hemisphere rugby need them "firing on all cylinders".

He admitted his team had taken little notice of the dramas confronting McKenzie, with champion Super 15 mentor Michael Cheika and former Springbok World Cup winner Jake White being suggested as ready-made replacements if there is another Bledisloe points avalanche.

Only two months ago the All Blacks responded to their 12-12 series opening draw in Sydney with a seven-try 51-20 pounding that ensured the Bledisloe Cup would stay in New Zealand for a 12th straight year.

"All we know is they're copping it and that will make them stronger," Hansen said.

"The Wallabies have certainly got their backs to the wall and they've got nowhere to go but come out and show their fans and themselves that they are good rugby players, and I don't think that's in question.

"I see them being a very dangerous beast this week."

The All Blacks, who have not won in their last two trips to Brisbane, are also braced for Adam Ashley-Cooper's 100th Test to galvanise Australia.

Smith praised "Mr Fix-It" Ashley-Cooper's all-round talent and versatility and said turbulent times had a habit of bringing out the best in teams.

"I think it just helps if anything - it fuels the fire," the experienced centre said. "You get through stuff like that and you just want to play rugby and I think that's the feeling we've even got."

Hansen said he was wary of returning playmaker Quade Cooper looming as a second-half game-breaker if the scoreline is tight.

"He's similar to Kurtley (Beale)," he said. "Coming off the bench he'll be really energetic and when he's on he's a super player - he's magical.

"It's a long time since he's played Test footy so he may be a bit rusty but what he'll bring is a lot of enthusiasm."



15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Rob Horne

New Zealand:

15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charles Piutau

Read more on:    all blacks  |  steve hansen  |  rugby

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