OPINION: It is almost poetic that to claim their 18th win in a row and world record for test match wins the All Blacks must get through the Wallabies in Sydney next weekend.
Twice in the past five years the Wallabies have spoiled our chance at respective records. Whoever scheduled the draw had some sort of perverse humour or, alternatively, it could be first time lucky.
The All Blacks need to play incredibly well to win this test but if they can rise for the occasion it will set this team apart. As per their own thoughts, if this team is to be the most dominant ever, then it's only right the record gets made against a team in the hardest circumstances, not against some easy-beats.
If they don't win maybe it's not destiny. If they do win, these guys have proved themselves to have the greatest record of all first-tier international teams and there will be no complaints from anyone.
In all the Bledisloe tests the All Blacks have generally had the upper hand, but the Wallabies have enjoyed very good periods.
Many All Black teams, which I have been apart of, have fallen to quality Australian sides. They've won two World Cups - the same as us.
And maybe in this day and age there could be a tendency to underrate that relationship because since 2003 the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup and been so dominant.
Some people say we are similar but we are actually very different in our personalities. We say we like to beat the Poms the most; we talk about the Springboks being the greatest rivalry but the local derby factor puts this challenge right up there.
Looking back at that 2000 game - it came after the World Cup. The Wallabies were in the stride of a golden run and playing at the Olympic Stadium in front of 106,000 fans the scene was set.
The game lived up to the hype. People still talk to me about that - it was probably my fondest memory of any game playing for the All Blacks.
It was one of the most bizarre games. After 10 minutes we had scored three tries and we were wondering what the hell was going on. From there the Wallabies had the better of the game but we dominated the last three minutes and that was the most important.
This week the scene is set even more so. There will be a packed crowd of rabid Australians and after the Waratahs' success, which has reignited interest in Australian rugby, there are expectations.
In the past they've had unrealistic hopes of beating the All Blacks. Now they may have a genuine chance rather than forlorn hope, which is different from the last decade.
The last time the All Blacks had a crack at the record it was a draw in Brisbane. It wasn't a classic match but it was very intense.
I think this game will be the same. Australian rugby is on a bit of a run, having won their past seven tests. Sydney is the home region of their game and they will want not just to win, but for a performance where they can say they were dominant. Fear not, though. While the Wallabies are certainly on the rise, the All Blacks still hold the edge. The loss of Tony Woodcock is a big blow. Wyatt Crockett has been a superb player at Super Rugby level but not quite there in internationals.
For the All Blacks, Jerome Kaino is the most crucial player. He doesn't lose to the Wallabies. His style, intimidation and physicality are immense.
I think the Wallabies most important player will be Michael Hooper. If he gets it over Aaron Cruden that will make a big difference.
But the old rule rings true. The backs decide what the score is, the forwards decide who wins.
In our games against the Wallabies, we win the battle in the little numbers. People talk about Folau and Savea.
Yes I think they are superb players but the game is won up front. That's been the backbone for success against the Wallabies. The All Blacks win the pick and go, the tight exchanges. They basically beat the Wallabies into submission.
I think the All Blacks will win by 10. It's great what's happening in Australian rugby. We need them to be strong on the international scene.
They are going the right way, but are not there yet.
Taine Randell is a former All Blacks captain.
- Sunday News
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