OPINION: Steve Hansen and Robbie Deans are doing everything to play down their rivalry but there's no doubt it's going to add a bit of spice to this week's Bledisloe Cup clash in Sydney.
By all accounts they don't like each other much and I'm sure Hansen has been enjoying the dominance he's had over Deans while operating at the shoulder of Sir Graham Henry over the past eight years.
Now Hansen is the man in charge and that will add a fair amount of pressure to the responsibilities that come with seeing off the Wallabies.
Let's face it, the Bledisloe Cup is a treasured piece of silverware not only to the All Blacks but also New Zealanders. Aside from the World Cup, it's the trophy we like to win most.
While much was made of the Henry-Deans rivalry because Ted beat Robbie for the All Blacks job after the 2007 World Cup shambles, Henry was always from a different generation.
This is different. Hansen and Deans go back a long way. They have played together and even coached together in red and black colours.
So I've no doubt there's a more personal feel to this latest tussle, no matter what sort of PC stuff is being said in public.
Deans got off to a flying start in his duel with Henry in 2004 when his Wallabies won the first- up game in Sydney. But they didn't get much of a look-in after that and the All Blacks now enjoy a decade-long Bledisloe Cup tenure.
The Wallabies must be feeling like New South Wales in their annual State of Origin tussles with Queensland. How to break the drought?
The Australians will realise the importance of striking quickly again, because they know how hard the rematch will be at Eden Park a week later. But with the third encounter set for Brisbane later in the season, the Australians have the home advantage if nothing else.
Of course the Bledisloe Cup is a competition within a competition and there is a new feel to the southern hemisphere extravaganza, with the Tri- Nations being expanded into the four-team Rugby Championship through the worthy addition of Argentina.
After a stunning couple of weeks of Olympics action, with New Zealand athletes excelling, it's going to be great to focus on test rugby again.
Yes, we've already had the June internationals against the northern teams but that felt like the phoney war - this is the real one.
The first phase after a World Cup is always interesting, as new coaching staff and players are bedded in. It's the start of a new four-year cycle.
The All Blacks looked the best of the four southern sides in June and the biggest issue facing the Wallabies isn't new. Wales exposed deficiencies in their forwards and the Aussies have the weakest tight five in this new competition. There has been a lot of talk about the Australians building confidence in crucial areas up front, but talk is cheap. They need to prove they have a better scrum, they can defend around the fringes, and that they have the ball- carrying forwards to take the game up the middle.
There's always a lot of talk about their backline stars, too, and they will be anxious to see the likes of James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper regain the fitness and form to feature at some stage over the next couple of months. But those guys provide the fluff - it's up front where it counts, especially against the All Blacks, Springboks and now the Pumas, who love nothing more than a battle in the trenches.
The All Blacks will be happy to see big No 8 Kieran Read back in action after he missed the business end of the Super Rugby competition. He will be itching to go and will be crucial.
The only question I see hovering over the All Blacks' pack remains at No 6. Jerome Kaino has been a huge contributor against the Wallabies and Boks in recent years with his abrasive game and ability to mix up the loose and tight play when necessary.
But the All Blacks have made a gain in another crucial area with the arrival of Aaron Smith at halfback. Will Genia has been able to add a new dimension to the Wallabies against New Zealand in recent times because he has been so much quicker than the All Blacks No 9s. Smith provides that missing element with his slick service and speed across the ground.
There will be plenty of interest in how the Pumas go against the South Africa in Cape Town next Sunday (NZ time).
You'd expect the Boks to win but I think the Pumas will become increasingly competitive as this tournament goes on. They have been desperate to get involved in something this big and they won't want to blow their opportunity.
Initially they will probably lack a bit in skill levels but I think they will match every opponent with their intensity and they will be a very real threat to knock over someone back in Argentina.
Taine Randell is a former All Blacks captain
- © Fairfax NZ News