All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wary of Wallabies' physicality in Bledisloe II

Steve Hansen warns the Wallabies will be hurting and desperate in the second Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin.
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Steve Hansen warns the Wallabies will be hurting and desperate in the second Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin.

Steve Hansen has viewed enough rugby to understand why desperate, and angry, teams can revert to unsavoury tactics when plotting their revenge.

Look at what happened when the Wallabies lost their first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney last year.

Humiliated by that 42-8 defeat, the Wallabies were a frothy-mouthed bunch when they attempted to upset the All Blacks a week later - only to be forced to wipe the gunpowder from their own faces as they lost 29-9 in Wellington; niggle, and lots of it, was on display and lock Adam Coleman was yellow carded for a late charge on fullback Ben Smith.

Adam Coleman leaves the field after getting a yellow card for a late charge on Ben Smith in a test against the All ...
FIONA GOODALL/GETTY IMAGES

Adam Coleman leaves the field after getting a yellow card for a late charge on Ben Smith in a test against the All Blacks in Wellington last year.

All Blacks coach Hansen has surely given his team the tip that a boisterous reception could be in store for them in Bledisloe II in Dunedin on Saturday night, given they humiliated the Aussies 54-34 in Sydney last weekend.

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"I will expect them (the Wallabies) to be a lot more physical than they were last week, yeah," Hansen said on Thursday. "There's a good PC answer for you."

Owen Franks is out of the Dunedin test with an Achilles injury.
FIONA GOODALL/GETTY IMAGES

Owen Franks is out of the Dunedin test with an Achilles injury.

"They'll be hurting, so they'll be hungry and desperate."

The fact of the matter is that political correctness could be in very short supply at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and rather than try to entertain the players and crowd with pithy one-liners, referee Nigel Owens could be better off ensuring his pockets are fully loaded with cards.

Not that the All Blacks are angels, either.

We saw that when Sonny Bill Williams was deservedly red carded for almost turning British and Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson's head into margarine when he butted his shoulder into him in the second test in Wellington this winter.

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Openside flanker Sam Cane, who put in a huge shift with 25 tackles last weekend, accepts the All Blacks mustn't allow the Wallabies to bully them but also cannot allow it to dilute their focus.

"The best way to look at is is 'jeez, if they are running around trying to do those sorts of things it means they are off-task in the things that they probably should be concentrating on'," Cane explained.

"At the same time you don't want to put up with any stuff that you shouldn't have to. As long as you can deal with it, and it doesn't detract from you doing your job, I think you let them know you are not going to put up with that rubbish."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will have spent the week educating his forward pack on the need to be spikier in the confrontations. Aggressive defence and clean-outs doesn't equate to niggle. If his side are to have a chance of upsetting the Kiwis in a city they have not won in since 2001 they must change-up their game in multiple areas.

Losing veteran tighthead prop Owen Franks, who could require an operation to fix his troublesome Achilles tendon, isn't ideal for the All Blacks. His replacement Nepo Laulala is a good scrummager, but doesn't deliver the some sting with his defensive hits or clean-outs.

Hansen kept the same back three that started in Sydney because he wanted to give Damian McKenzie another shot at fullback, meaning Israel Dagg has again been left out of the match-day 23.

Substitute lock Luke Romano was replaced by Scott Barrett because the former has a foot injury.

"They will be a lot sharper of mind and body," Hansen said in reference to the Wallabies. "They will be desperate because there is a lot of negativity (about Australian rugby in general), and one of their responsibilities is to put some smiles on some faces."



 

 - Stuff

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