Ewen McKenzie warns of All Blacks mind games
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie says the All Blacks don't have a mortgage on the Bledisloe Cup but warned his players to be on guard for New Zealand mind games.
After more than a decade of trans-Tasman misery, Australia will head into the first test against New Zealand on August 16 with confidence high on the back of a seven-match winning streak, having beaten France 39-13 on Saturday for a 3-0 series win.
But in Sydney they'll have to contend with a hungry All Blacks side vying for a world record 18th-consecutive test win.
McKenzie says the blockbuster billing is tailor-made for hype and expectation to go through the roof, with outspoken All Blacks coach Steve Hansen a likely ringleader.
''I noticed he was spritely against England [last week], so he's warming up, yes,'' McKenzie said.
''Coaches like myself who don't have to run on the field might say things at times to make things interesting. The talk ends up getting done by people that don't have to actually go out there and play the game.
''We're going to have to put up with lots of people talking and speculating about our prospects.
''It won't be coming from us.
''The reality is the task is what it's - you're playing against the No 1 side in the world.''
Australia's winning run is the longest since the Wallabies were last world champions in 1999-2000, and the impact of Israel Folau and Will Skelton against France suggests Australia may finally possess the strikepower to end a dynasty.
McKenzie says there's every reason for Australia to believe that a slice of history could be within reach following the clean-sweep over France.
''There's no mortgage on these sorts of things,'' he said.
''They've obviously dominated for a period of time and they're not going to hand it over.
''We've got to go out there and win it. We've got to get everything right.''
McKenzie didn't even wait until yesterday morning to fly his players home, with the focus now back on the end of the Super Rugby season.
Australia won't be thinking too far ahead until they know exactly what personnel they'll have available when they reassemble for the Bledisloe and Rugby Championship in August.
McKenzie is pleased with the consistency and self-belief of his squad, and is relishing a chance to properly prepare his side after last year being appointed just two weeks before the first Bledisloe test.
But he warned a lot can change before his players come back.
''Fitness will be a big part of the equation for both teams. [New Zealand forward] Kieran Read has missed a lot of rugby for instance, that's an example that you can have great players that suddenly aren't there,'' he said.
''We've developed our depth and different types of options. Sam Carter should be back, Joe Tomane will be available, Luke Burgess has come back early and Will Genia is a chance.
''We're preparing ourselves as best we can but you still have to face the music on the night.''