Cape Town - Australia captain Michael Hooper has dismissed rumours that his squad is out of form and unfit going into the Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.
Only one Australian team made it to the quarter-finals of Super Rugby this season, therefore a large chunk of the Wallabies squad has not played competitively for quite some time.
Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika held training camps with his squad in Newcastle and Cessnock. The focus was to get the team fit and match ready for the All Blacks, who had four teams in the quarter-finals with the Crusaders going on to win the title.
Hooper, the now full-time skipper in place of Stephen Moore, is pleased with the progress his team has made going into the tournament.
"We've seen some really good improvements, immeasurable fitness (gains), during the couple of camps we've had," the flanker told AAP.
"But more than that, some really good mental fitness as well.
"It's one thing being able to make your targets; it's another being able to push to get better than what your target is and I think we've developed that.
"You would have heard 'Cheik' saying 'guys have learnt how to work hard' and we've definitely achieved that over the course of the last three weeks."
Australia last won the Bledisloe Cup in 2002. They have only won 12 compared to the All Blacks, who have a staggering 44 titles. Hooper is still confident that his charges can match New Zealand.
"There's obviously ways they play the game, but every team that plays has weaknesses," he said.
"They give you a lot of ball, but it's also one of their strengths. You can make the most of it.
"They're just a very good team at continually delivering the same picture.
"So to break them down, we've got some plans around that and it's about doing it more consistently than them."