They’ve won the past two Rugby World Cups, have a 14-year mortgage on the Bledisloe Cup and haven’t lost in more than a year – yet the All Blacks say they still have a point to prove.
They plan to prove it on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium, where they haven’t beaten the Wallabies in three years.
Despite being undefeated against Australia in New Zealand in 15 years, the All Blacks have a less-than 50 per cent strike rate at the Sydney Olympic venue over the same period.
Their seven-from-15 record at the ground since 2001 isn’t a patch on the Wallabies’ Eden Park hoodoo, but it still grates with the world champions.
“We’ve got a lot to prove over here because we haven’t got a great record over here,” admitted All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.
“It’s clearly a place that the Wallabies enjoy playing. They’ve got a good record.
“We’re confident that if we play to our level that we can perform here and that’s what we’re really focusing on.”
Foster has his own theory as to why the Wallabies have enjoyed so much success in Sydney, including a famous World Cup semi-final ambush of the All Blacks in 2003.
“One thing is that the Bledisloe is a pretty special trophy and, whilst we’re proud of our record, we know that the Wallabies are also a quality team and hard to beat at home,” he said.
“So we’re not getting distracted by (Australia’s) three-zip loss in June against England.
“That doesn’t turn the Wallabies into a bad team.
“They’ve got a whole new group of people coming back and we’re expecting to play one of the top teams in the world on Saturday.”
Foster said the Wallabies, while oft-maligned by their own fickle fans, were a team of few weaknesses.
“Look, we’re talking about a team that we played in a World Cup final last year,” he said.
“There’s areas that we’d like to probe and to test, so whether they’re weaknesses or not, I wouldn’t say that.
“This is an All Black-Wallabies Test and Bledisloe Cup game. There’s no quarter given.
“So we know we’re up against a team that probably struggled a little bit in June but still played enough good rugby to come out of there with a bit of hope.
“It’s a big test for them and it’s a big test for us and everyone wants to win the first Bledisloe Cup game because it sets the series up nicely.”