The All Blacks will target the Wallabies’ wobbly lineout as they bid to strike a psychological hammer blow in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.
With the Wallabies winless in New Zealand for the past 15 years, anything less than victory at ANZ Stadium will leave Michael Cheika’s men facing rugby’s version of mission impossible to wrestle back the Bledisloe Cup in 2016.
The second and third games of the series are in Wellington next Saturday and Auckland on October 22.
“In terms of a Bledisloe Cup, the first game is pretty crucial,” said All Blacks captain Kieran Read.
“We know the significance of playing in Sydney and a Bledisloe Cup game is always a massive occasion so we’re looking forward to the game.
“We know how tough it’s going to be. It always is when these two sides play. It’s a Test match. It’s going to be a big game.”
Read knows the Wallabies will be hungry to avoid a fifth straight Test defeat and says the All Blacks are preparing for a much better opposition than that which suffered a 3-0 series loss to England in June.
“They’ve got some guys coming back in and they’re desperate, the guys who really tested us last year,” he said.
“Any wounded Test team is a tough team to come up against and they’re certainly in that position.
“So they’ll be willing to fight for everything. So we’ve got to be able to match that pretty early on.”
The All Blacks’ domination of Australia’s lineout proved the cornerstone of their 34-17 World Cup final triumph at Twickenham last October and Read said it’s an area his side would like to exploit once more.
“We’ll certainly be looking to put as much pressure on as we can, considering they’ve probably only got the two main jumpers,” he said.
“But there’s other areas of the game that we’ve got to be wary of, especially kind of their trick plays at the back of the lineout and with Hooper and Pocock running off the back of mauls and things as well.”