All Blacks claim they’re wary of Wallabies

Desperate to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th straight year, the All Blacks remain wary of an ambush in Sydney on Saturday despite having lost just three of their past 30 Tests against the Wallabies.

Coach Steve Hansen says the Wallabies – with midfield maestro Kurtley Beale back on deck and young gun Sean McMahon adding aggression to the back row – command respect.

Hansen also believes Australian sides’ poor Super Rugby season, with only the Brumbies making the quarter-finals, may benefit the Wallabies.

“They’ve got a lot of talent and they’ve had a great preparation,” he said on Thursday.

“While franchise fans weren’t probably overexcited about the fact that they got knocked out early and would rather have seen them play right through to the final and have less preparation time, those two things make them a dangerous beast.

“The third thing that makes the really dangerous is their desire to try to help Australian rugby and at the moment it has a bit of a cloud over it and they haven’t won the Bledisloe in a long time.

“They’re pretty hungry for it so, as a team, we have to be hungrier than them, otherwise we’re at a disadvantage.”

Hansen also fears being the first All Blacks coach to hand back the prized piece of trans-Tasman silverware since 1998.

“Bledisloe is something we hold dearly in New Zealand rugby and someone’s going to lose it and you don’t want to be that person,” he said.

“But you don’t want to be burdened by that either. That’s an important thing.

“It’s the biggest trophy we play for outside of the World Cup and it means a lot to the group – it’s part of who are we, and our legacy is about honouring, respecting and enhancing the jersey,.

“We’ve held this trophy for a while, and no one wants to be part of giving it up.”

The All Blacks racked up an aggregate of 107 points, while conceding just 29, in last year’s three-Test whitewash yet Hansen maintains the world champions retain a healthy respect for the Wallabies.

“Australia and New Zealand have done a lot of things together and not just play rugby and all sports,” he said.

“And it’s a big brother-little brother backyard game and the little brother doesn’t like losing to the big brother and the big brother certainly doesn’t like losing to the little brother. It creates a tension.

“And when the little brother appears to be winning more than he should be, you probably get a little bit hacked off about it and it does create a bit of resentment.

“But I think the rivalry is good. There is a lot of support from New Zealand towards Australian rugby. We need them to be strong and we need that rivalry to be strong.”

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