Don’t bother trying to persuade the Wallabies that the All Blacks might be vulnerable now some of their greatest players have ridden off into the rugby sunset.
Several old foes will be missing when the latest chapter in rugby’s trans-Tasman rivalry is written at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
The All Blacks will be without talismanic captain and flanker Richie McCaw, front-row stalwarts Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu, peerless five-eighth Dan Carter and classy centres Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu.
The departure of so many quality players would leave a big hole in most teams, but Wallabies winger Rob Horne dismisses suggestions the All Blacks might be even a little vulnerable.
“Of course not. They are an incredible team,” Horne said on Monday.
“Just because you lose a few players doesn’t mean all the other guys go away, too.
“They’ve been in there getting the same experience as those senior guys. It’s a team that have been at the top for a long time and they deserve to be.
“They are a difficult team to play because they can win in different ways.”
But Horne says Australia believe they can win back the Bledisloe Cup after 13 years, despite none of the current squad having experience in a series-winning team.
“Of course, we wouldn’t turn up otherwise. What’s the point?” Horne said.
“We’ve had a pretty long prep now, so we’re pretty keen to get out there and we feel ready to play.”
Horne started in all three Tests against England in June, but he welcomes the extra competition for his spot, with overseas-based Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell back after missing the Red Rose series.
One potential opponent for the wing contenders is prolific try-scorer Julian Savea, who was named on the Hurricanes bench in all their Super Rugby finals matches.
“I’d pick him (to start). He’s a world-class player,” Horne said of Savea.