Cheika wants Wallabies to embrace the hate

The Wallabies are not shying away from the fact a cauldron of hatred and abuse awaits them at Eden Park.

But rather than blocking it out or pretending it’s not there, coach Michael Cheika wants his players to revel in it.

“We’re the enemy here, that’s for sure,” Cheika told reporters in New Zealand ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup Test.

“That’s a great feeling sometimes in rugby, to be away from home, being the enemy, you’re all bound together – that’s the great thing about this game.”

An old hand at breeding a siege mentality in his teams, Cheika has done it again as Australia dares to dream of a hoodoo-shattering night in Auckland.

Not since 2008 have the Wallabies even forced a Bledisloe decider. But having done that with an impressive win over the All Blacks last week in Sydney, there is a quiet sense of confidence around Camp Wallaby that this is the team capable of ending their 29-year curse at Eden Park and lifting the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2003.

For that to happen, the team is acutely aware of how important the opening minutes will be – not only in setting a tone for the match, but in silencing a crowd that will be ready to remind Quade Cooper of their distaste for him the moment he touches the ball.

Damningly, the Wallabies have not scored a first-half try at Eden Park since 2009.

“It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, that first part of the game is important,” skipper Stephen Moore said.

“The crowd’s going to be behind the opposition team and it’s important for us to start well for ourselves to get into the game and get into the contest.”

It was bucketing down with rain as the Wallabies held a light training run at Eden Park on Friday and more of the same is expected on Saturday.

The conditions will play into New Zealand’s hands but Cheika doesn’t anticipate the match descending into a slogfest and said he wouldn’t have changed his team in any case.

“I probably would have picked it anyway … just because I think they’re going to try and smash us,” he said.

“They made it pretty clear, they’ve mentioned the word ‘physicality’ a lot. I just like to be ready for that.”

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