Wallabies 'don't really care' about ABs' streak
The All Blacks are potentially 80 minutes away from claiming the longest ever Test-match winning streak among tier-one nations, but the Wallabies "don't really care".
Australia's vice captain James Slipper said he was completely focused on his team's preparations for the Rugby Championship and was paying no attention to New Zealand's quest to claim 18 straight wins in the first Bledisloe Cup Test at ANZ Stadium next weekend.
"I don't really care [about the record], we've been focusing on ourselves," Slipper said.
"If we get ahead of ourselves and talk about how we're going to end their world record winning streak, we're doing what we do every year, which is talk them up.
"The cue for us is just to train hard. They are the best team in the world and we're going to have to be at our best, so all our energy is going into training."
The Wallabies prop was more worried about readying Australia's scrum for a brutal seven-Test campaign over the next few weeks.
After strong performances across three Tests against France in June, Slipper said set-piece dominance was crucial to success against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
"The scrum is going to be a big part of the Rugby Championship, set-piece seems to be the talking point of these Test matches," he said.
"We've been working pretty hard throughout the French series and into this week."
He also backed his front-row teammate in that series, Sekope Kepu, who will retain his starting spot at tighthead despite the return of experience Brumbies prop Ben Alexander.
Kepu produced excellent performances for NSW at the back end of their title-winning season but was the subject of some undignified criticism from referee Craig Joubert early in the second half of the Waratahs' grand final battle with the Crusaders.
"Keps is a great Wallaby so he'll bounce back from whatever happened," Slipper said.
"One referee's opinion can always change going into a Test match, I think the Waratahs scrum has done pretty well all year so I wouldn't be too worried about that.
"And same with [rookie hooker Nathan Charles]. The Western Force scrum has been really strong this year, so with those two players in mind, I'm not worried about our scrum at all.
"If we do the work at training, we'll be fine in the game."
Kepu arrived in camp in Bathurst on Wednesday along with 10 of his teammates, who all celebrated hard after their 33-32 win last weekend.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was among the group, as was fullback Israel Folau and five-eighth Bernard Foley.
Slipper said he hadn't detected any visible damage to the players from their Mad Monday - and beyond - celebrations but said he would forgive any tattoos or bizarre haircuts.
"When you win those milestones in your career, you've got to celebrate them, it's very important to make the most of the occasion," he said.
"The Waratahs have done an absolutely great job this year, they've really played good-looking rugby, and they've done it well.
"So they deserve the win, and I'm sure they've had a few beers over the weekend ... and early week."
Sydney Morning Herald