Australia’s attempt to impose themselves with physical aggression in the second Bledisloe Cup match in Wellington was a sign of “weakness” and a team not concentrating on their rugby, according to All Blacks players.
Thrashed 42-8 at home in the opener in Sydney, the Wallabies brought more niggle in the spite-tinged re-match in Wellington but fell 29-9 in another one-sided defeat.
“We saw it as a bit more of a weakness from them that they were worried about putting that in and we were just playing rugby,” All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick told media in Wellington on Monday.
“I don’t mind it, to be fair. They play their way, we play ours. I don’t mind the physical stuff.”
Flanker Sam Cane was similarly dismissive of the abrasive tactics brought by Michael Cheika’s team who slumped to their sixth straight loss to surrender the Bledisloe Cup early for another year.
“We knew they would come out a lot more physical and potentially with a bit of niggle,” he said.
“The way they went about it was probably what caught us off guard just a fraction but we acknowledged it pretty quickly that that was how they were going to play.
“In a funny way it’s a good thing when you realise the opposition are playing like that because it means they’re not really focused on their footy as much.
“And as long as we worry about playing footy and executing our stuff right, there should be some answers and I suppose that’s how the game played out.”
The comments are unlikely to be well received in Australia where former players and pundits were up in arms over an alleged eye-gouging incident involving All Blacks prop Owen Franks.
Franks’ hand came in contact with lock Kane Douglas’s face in full view of referee Romain Poite but both players’ denied it was gouging and the incident was dismissed by the tournament’s citing commissioner.