The All Blacks ready to defend the historic race to the fortress of Eden Park – .

The All Blacks ready to defend the historic race to the fortress of Eden Park – .

Auckland (AFP)

The All Blacks will not only defend the Bledisloe Cup when they face the Wallabies on Saturday, but will look to preserve an unbeaten run at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Their uninterrupted journey of 19 years with the Cup and 27 years unbeaten on the ground known as “the fortress” are feats that annoy Australia.

To prepare for Bledisloe, the Wallabies won a tense 2-1 streak against Six Nations finalists France and the All Blacks easily won the Tests against Tonga and Fiji last month.

New Zealand’s performance had led Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to dominate up front and play a fast, physical and airy game in hopes of winning the three-test series and ending the dominance. of the All Blacks.

The All Blacks have not been beaten at Eden Park, their spiritual home, in 44 events dating back to 1994. Australia have not won on the field since 1986, nor have they hosted the Bledisloe Cup, which is contested annually by both countries, since 2002.

– Slice of history –

While the All Blacks say they are focusing on the game rather than expanding the records, the Wallabies see an opportunity to claim a slice of history.

None of the Wallabies were born in the team’s last victory at Eden Park in 1986. Captain Michael Hooper said that while he resented losing several times at Eden Park, the youngsters Team members were spared the pressure of playing there.

“It wouldn’t be nice to put what everyone else says about Eden Park to them,” Hooper said.

“If what they feel is positive, then happy days. It’s great to have that kind of feeling and that kind of young “I just want to go out and play rugby” (feeling). “

With the trans-Tasman bubble break, the All Blacks will still be fueled by back-to-back testing at Eden Park before heading to Perth to end the series.

“It’s a hell of a place to play, and a big challenge for us to play there twice in a row against a team that’s probably pretty confident,” said All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor.

All Blacks scrum half Aaron Smith is aiming for peak performance to celebrate his 100th test.

The All Blacks will play back-to-back tests at Eden Park before heading to Perth to complete the Bledisloe Cup series MICHAEL BRADLEY AFP

“It’s a special game, 100 for Nuggy (Smith), so it means a lot to us too, just as much as winning the Bledisloe,” added Richie Mo’unga, who was again preferred over Beauden Barrett to start playing. the opening. .

Barrett and his brother Jordie were left on the bench, with Damian McKenzie starting at the back and coach Ian Foster preferring Rieko Ioane and Sevu Reece on the wings ahead of Will Jordan, who scored eight tries out of five tests.

Wallabies coach Rennie sees this as an area to be exploited.

“We’ll do what we can with these three full-backs. He’s not the biggest fullback three in world rugby, ”he said, promising a repeat of the kicks that proved effective against the All Blacks last year.

In the usual pre-game verbal sparring, All Blacks coach Foster dismissed the Wallabies’ rhetoric of dominance in the critical forward battle.

“It’s not about responding to an external stimulus, it’s about this internal will within us to be the best we can be. There will be no surprises in the intensity, ”he said.

Teams (15-1)

New Zealand:

Damien McKenzie; Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Rieko Ioane; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Akira John; Sam Whitelock (captain), Brodie Retallick; Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, George Bower

Remplacements : Dane Coles, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Angus Ta’avao, Scott Barrett, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett.

Australia: Tom Banks, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Andrew Kellaway; Noah Lolesio, Tate McDermott; Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper (captain), Rob Valetini; Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Darcy Swain; Allan Alaalatoa, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper

Remplacements: Jordan Uelese, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Jake Gordon, Matt To’omua, Reece Hodge


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