Champion back-rower David Pocock is set for a timely comeback as the Wallabies bid to deny the All Blacks a world-record 18th consecutive Test win for the second time in two years.
Pocock has been sidelined since breaking his hand against Argentina last month but is confident of passing a fitness test later on Tuesday after completing a full contact session on Monday.
“It’s feeling pretty good. I’ve done all the rehab that’s been required,” Pocock said.
“I guess the only bit (of a concern) is the uncontrolled – the contact. I’ll see how that goes. Yesterday was good.”
Pocock’s expected inclusion in the Australian back row is a massive boost for a Bledisloe Cup dead rubber with an edge at Eden Park on Saturday.
Two years after Australia thwarted the All Blacks’ world-record quest with a 12-all draw in Sydney, the Wallabies return to New Zealand rugby’s spiritual home as big underdogs to once again stop the streak.
The Wallabies haven’t won at Eden Park since 1986 and have scored just one try, while conceding 10, in the first two trans-Tasman outings in 2016 to allow the world champions to clinch the Bledisloe Cup for a 14th straight year.
“Going over there to Eden Park is always a huge challenge for any team,” Pocock said.
“It’s been a pretty tough Rugby Championship.
“We certainly haven’t achieved what we set out to, but I think we’ve probably learnt a lot as a squad and we get a last crack at it before we head off on the spring tour.”
Pocock admits he’s extra hungry to end what has been a luckless 2016 season on a high before taking a rugby sabbatical next year.
“On a personal note, you can’t really control some of the injuries I’ve had this year – a broken cheekbone and a broken hand, they’re contact injuries,” he said.
“So to miss out to them has been disappointing, but it’s all just part of it.
“I’m doing everything that I can to be available for selection.”
Fellow back-rower Sean McMahon admits he’s a “long shot” to be available on Saturday as he continues his comeback from an ankle injury.