All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick loves nothing more than a torrid forward battle.
He reckons he’s guaranteed that these days against a Wallabies side who have adopted the muscular methods used by the Waratahs in Super Rugby.
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has been in charge of the Wallabies for nine months and his impact is obvious, Retallick says.
“They’ve always had the talent and the skill there,” he said.
“I think they’ve probably stepped up the physicality with their big forwards running through the middle of the field.
“It’s probably taken their game to the next level.”
Retallick believes the Wallabies won’t suffer greatly from losing lock Rob Simmons to a wrist injury ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship decider in Sydney.
He says another experienced Reds forward, James Horwill, will bring an energy which can complement the sheer size and physicality of Will Skelton.
“They’re guys who like to confront you and run hard at you,” Retallick said.
“We’re going to have to stop them getting the gain line because they’ve got some backs who are pretty switched on.”
It will be the 40th Test for 2014 world player of the year Retallick, who has never lost in nine clashes with the Wallabies.
Their Bledisloe Cup dominance isn’t taken for granted, he says, with the fear growing greater each year that a stint as holders since 2003 could end.
They have the backstop of a second Test in Auckland a week later if things go wrong in Sydney.
Retallick is anxious they lock up the silverware at the first possible opportunity.
“I always had an appreciation for the Bledisloe but then when I made the team I realised how much it meant to the All Blacks and the country.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve always won it. It’s massive for our team and we’re keen to hold onto it.”
Retallick says there is no carry-over problem from the ankle he rolled during the warm-up drills ahead of their last-start 27-20 win over the Springboks.