He’s won a stack of team and individual honours and accolades, but Wallabies fullback Israel Folau is hoping to break his All Blacks drought with more than just a single win in Saturday’s Rugby Championship decider.
Heading into the game at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, Folau has yet to play in a victorious Australian team against New Zealand, having experienced five defeats and a draw in six matches.
“The history of the games (against New Zealand) I’ve been involved in hasn’t been too good,” Folau conceded on Tuesday.
Folau is far from the only current Wallaby yet to savour victory over the All Blacks.
But the word champions remain a stubborn stumbling block and one of the most implacable foes he has faced in a career filled with success, apart from his stint with AFL club GWS Giants, who were always going to struggle in their early seasons.
Asked where a win over the All Blacks would rank among his career highlights, Folau said: “It would be a great achievement obviously, but having one win is probably not good enough.”
The match-winning back said he was excited about the World Cup starting next month, but was adopting a one game at a time attitude until then.
Folau played at the 2008 rugby league World cup and will be hoping to avoid a similar outcome to that tournament, when Australia lost the final to New Zealand.
Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika closed Tuesday’s training session to the media, though passers by in the Centennial Parklands precinct with good vision or a set of field glasses would probably have got a decent look.
The coach upped the ante for his charges on Tuesday after declaring himself dissatisfied with the previous session.
“They trained really hard and I was really pleased with the session today,” Cheika said.
“I asked a lot of them. I was probably not too happy with yesterday’s session and I wanted to get the guys concentrating on having a really good day.”
Asked what he wasn’t happy with on Monday Cheika said “just the consistency of what we’re doing, some of the handling, some of the contact work.
“That was yesterday and they definitely improved today.”
Prop James Slipper and inside back Matt Toomua each got through their first contact session after copping head knocks in the last Test against Argentina and Cheika said both should be available for selection for Saturday’s game.
“It was nice to be back in the contact work doing the full session,” Slipper said.
“It was really enjoyable, it was pretty intense today which was good.
“We really nutted out a few things which I think the team needed and moving forward I think we’re going to be better off from that session.”