Rugby Championship

All Blacks expect wounded Wallabies to put boot in

2016-08-25 11:59
Steve Hansen (Getty Images)

Wellington - Complacency is the big battle facing the world champion All Blacks as they prepare to face Australia in the second round of the Rugby Championship in Wellington on Saturday.

The Wallabies have rushed the New Zealand fans' arch-enemy Quade Cooper into their line up, hoping he can conjure up a miracle turnaround with an inspired kicking game.

But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen called complacency the "massive concern" for his side after the comprehensive way they whipped Australia in the opening match of the series.

Less than a year after the Wallabies were considered the second best team in the world and good enough to face the All Blacks in the World Cup final they suffered a record 42-8 loss on home soil.

They were outgunned across the board in Sydney, and while Hansen is expecting a sterner test second time round, the major issue was knocking any thoughts of superiority out of the All Blacks.

With the Wallabies desperate to redeem themselves, Hansen has demanded the All Blacks block out memories of that thrashing and muster a similar desperation.

"You can't fake it," he said. "If we wait and sit back then Australia will smack us and then we will be in trouble.

"It's about mentally controlling your thought patterns ... and getting your feet back on the ground firmly and trying to not subconsciously relax."

Having taken a public pounding from their own supporters and media since last week's humiliating scoreline, coach Michael Cheika has admitted the Wallabies needed a shake-up.

He's moved Bernard Foley to inside centre to cater for Cooper at fly-half, with Samu Kerevi replacing Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.

Ben McCalman and Rob Simmons are gone from the pack where lock Adam Coleman gets his first start and Scott Fardy earns a re-call while Will Skelton will make his return.

Utility back Reece Hodge is in line to make his debut after being named as one of three back replacements along with Kuridrani and Nick Phipps.

Hansen, who named his side first, had predicted a Foley-Cooper combination and switched Ben Smith back to fullback with Israel Dagg going to the wing.

"It will allow Ben to come into the game a wee bit more if Australia are going to kick, which I think they probably will do a bit more," Hansen said.

"I think they will pick two (fly-halves) and try and control the territory game."

New Zealand-born and France-based Cooper, who has not played since April and whose last Test was 11 months ago, is loathed by New Zealand crowds after several run-ins with popular, former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

But Hansen sprang to his defence as a player respected by the All Blacks.

"He gets maligned a wee bit over here because of a few incidents with Richie and we're not too forgiving on people that pick on Rich -- I'm talking about the fans -- but within the team he's well respected. He's a good player so he'll enhance them I think."

Cooper's recall helps solve, for Australia, a growing midfield injury problem that has hit both sides.

The All Blacks have depleted their stocks of experienced 12s and will start Anton Lienert-Brown in his Test debut opposite Foley.

The only other significant change in the New Zealand line up is the return of loosehead prop Joe Moody, with Wyatt Crockett set to play his 50th Test from the bench.


WRAP: Super Rugby - Week 5

2018-03-18 09:30

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