Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes his players are in the right frame of mind to tackle what looms as one of the biggest challenges they’ll ever face in rugby.
Cheika’s Wallabies face the rampant world champion All Blacks in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington on Saturday night.
On the back of last week’s demoralising 42-8 defeat in Sydney, the Wallabies have been shunned by bookmakers, savaged by their critics and are considered next to no chance of victory, needing to break a 15-year losing run in New Zealand to keep the series alive.
But within the four walls of Camp Wallaby, Cheika insists the belief is still there.
“It’s going to be difficult to come back,” he said.
“We’ve broken it down this week and had a look at each person and what he can do to make a difference this weekend and feel like we’re in a pretty good space there, so we’ll see how we go.”
The Wallabies will cop a sixth consecutive Test defeat if they can’t produce some sort of miracle in front of a sold-out Westpac Stadium crowd.
All Blacks skipper Kieran Read said they’d be fools to expect another limp performance from the Australians.
“We certainly love playing for the Bledisloe Cup. We know it’s a big Test, every time we play against Australia we say it, it’s never an easy game,” he said.
“We know we’ve got to prepare accordingly, otherwise she’s one hell of a night and you normally don’t come out on the right side of it.”
Cheika has made several changes to his side, recalling Quade Cooper after a year out of international rugby and also throwing rookie Adam Coleman in for a start next to Kane Douglas in the second row.
Lingering wind and rain could make life even tougher for the Wallabies on Saturday night, particularly given Cooper and new inside centre Bernard Foley are expected to kick for territory more often.
Australia’s kickers and catchers had a brief run at Westpac Stadium on Friday and Cheika believes they are primed to handle whatever conditions are thrown their way.
“The boys would have worked on that with Mick (Byrne) and Stephen (Larkham), they would have talked to the kickers about that,” Cheika said.