The Wallabies believe their brutally tough path to the Rugby World Cup final might prove to be a blessing despite their aches and bruises.
The world champion All Blacks will unquestionably be fresher than the battle-scarred Wallabies in Saturday’s title decider (Sunday AEDT) at Twickenham.
But the Australians say the the level of belief and trust they gained from playing – and winning – four consecutive mighty contests against England, Wales, Scotland and Argentina is priceless as they look to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a record third time.
“We’ve spoke about that, it’s probably one of the most difficult journeys and every team along the way has seriously challenged us,” five-eighth Bernard Foley said.
“It has probably made us really battle-ready for Saturday. We’ve played so many hard teams in a row that everyone knows what to do, how to recover and get themselves up for the next week.
“As a side, we’ve always had a great belief in our preparation and groundwork. We’ve been doing it on the field, in the gym and on the computers for our strategies.
“To put them in place in the games, belief definitely grows.
“We can draw on those challenges and times we’ve had in games when we start to face it again on Saturday.”
By comparison, Steve Hansen’s All Blacks breezed through their pool after a tough opening fixture against the Pumas with facile wins over Georgia, Tonga and Namibia before crushing France 62-13 in the quarter-finals.
Although a physical South African side put up a strong semi-final challenge before going down 20-18, there’s no doubt the world’s No.1 team have not been challenged to anything like the same extent as the Wallabies.
In addition, the Australians can draw on their convincing win over the All Blacks in Sydney on their way to winning the Rugby Championship.
However, Foley said it would be foolish to read too much into previous results against a side praised as the greatest of all time by Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer.
“I think you can’t count on too many of your wins or losses in the past to help you,” Foley said.
“What happened back then was a learning experience and we took a lot out of it, but you can’t take too much of it into Saturday night.
“They’ve probably adopted a different style of play and we’ve definitely got different combinations. I suppose the way we’ve played has definitely developed.”