Rugby Championship

Wallabies look for fresh start - Larkham

2016-08-19 20:24
Stephen Larkham (Gallo Images)

Sydney - The Wallabies are hoping a new focus will help them upset New Zealand in the opening Rugby Championship Test, assistant coach Stephen Larkham said on Friday.

Australia, the defending titleholders, are outsiders in Saturday's Test in Sydney having won just one of their last 13 encounters with the world champions. Australia have not held the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup since 2002 against the dominant All Blacks.

Significantly, no member of the Wallabies' 23-man match-day squad has ever had their hands on the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy.

Head coach Michael Cheika and his backroom staff are confident a playing group has been assembled to challenge and push the All Blacks to the wire.

"There's a bit of a new focus within the team, a bit of a fresh start for us," Larkham told reporters.

"Last year the campaign was pretty intense and very enjoyable and we certainly surprised a number of people.

"I think everyone had written us off last year after our England series -- maybe that's the case again this year."

The Wallabies were second best to Six Nations champions England in a three-Test home series and, including last year's World Cup final defeat to the All Blacks, have lost their last four internationals.

"We feel internally that there's good energy and we're sort of on a new path here together," Larkham said.

"It's a fairly similar team to what we had in that World Cup and there's good energy and communication and connection within the team at the moment." 

The Wallabies have been in a training camp for almost a month and skipper Stephen Moore said it had definitely helped his team heading into their first meeting this season with New Zealand.

"You don't often get those type of training blocks in the season with so many games on so I'd like to think it was beneficial, otherwise we wouldn't have done it," Moore told reporters.

"It's (winning the Bledisloe Cup) something we haven't been able to achieve for a very long time."

Cheika said the Wallabies were building a bond which he believed would help them in the tough moments of a match against the All Blacks.

"So far we've been able to put together, in the time we've had together - 18 months or so in our coaching time - a really strong connection around hard work," Cheika said.

"We're building our belief. We understand we've got a long way to go around having that mental toughness that's required to go in day in and day out and do the job.

"But I trust them to go into this contest knowing that they're going to take the world's best right to the line."

Cheika has reinforced his squad with the return of experienced French-based trio Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Will Genia, who will start in his first match since January 2 after knee surgery.

Genia said it wasn't until last week that he felt comfortable about the prospect of starting in this weekend's game given his lengthy time out.

"There's no doubt it's going to be hard, my first game for six, seven months, but I wouldn't put my hand up if I didn't think I was ready," he said.

Ashley-Cooper has experienced only five wins from 29 Tests against the All Blacks, while Giteau has five wins from 24 matches and Genia just two wins from 17 encounters.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Jake White will leave his job as Montpellier coach next year. Where would you like to see the former Springbok coach, coach next?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

Big month in the world of golf as the FedEx Cup concludes on the PGA Tour, the Race to Dubai gathers steam on the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour offers local golfers the chance to bank some cash. Oh, and not forgetting the USA v Europe Ryder Cup showdown at Hazeltine!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.