His personal duel with Beauden Barrett looms as key, but playmaker Bernard Foley has implored the Wallabies to band together to stop the All Blacks juggernaut.
“That’s what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to unite together,” Foley told AAP ahead of the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney on August 20.
The Wallabies as a collective force are looking to rebound after a disappointing showing from Australia’s Super Rugby sides.
The Brumbies were the only team to make the finals – by virtue of winning the Australian conference – and were promptly bundled out by the Highlanders in the first week of the playoffs.
Foley, though, is looking on the bright side as the Wallabies strive to end New Zealand’s 14-year domination of the Bledisloe Cup.
“We’ve probably got an extra couple of weeks in preparation,” he said.
“That probably doesn’t mean much, but we just want to go out there and play a style that we want to play, show our true identity that we’re proud of being Wallabies, being in that jersey and do it for our fans.
“(Winning the Bledisloe) is something that we haven’t achieved in a long time and that’s something that’s definitely going to be motivating us.”
For the Wallabies to conquer the world champions, Foley will almost certainly need to outpoint the brilliant Barrett in the playmaking and pointscoring stakes.
If they both get picked in the respective No.10 jumpers, that is.
While Foley must fend off challenges from Quade Cooper and Matt Toomua, Barrett, rather extraordinarily, is no guarantee to start at five-eighth for the All Blacks despite being arguably the Super Rugby player of the year.
Freakishly skilful, deadly with the boot and the fastest player in the New Zealand squad, Barrett crowned his 2016 campaign with a lead role in the Hurricanes’ maiden Super Rugby final triumph on Saturday night over the Lions.
But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is still seriously considering Aaron Cruden as his starting No.10.
“It’s going to be a great challenge going into the Bledisloe Cup whoever they pick,” Foley said.
“Barrett’s been a quality player.”
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore highlighted the enormity of the task confronting his side by noting that the All Blacks’ successors to retired legends Richie McCaw and Dan Carter had probably been New Zealand’s two standout performers in 2016.
“(Flanker) Ardie Savea has been killing it,” Moore said.
“And obviously they have got Sam Kane, who is being bred as their next captain as well, so that will be an interesting (selection) battle.
“Also Cruden and Barrett, Barrett has been just carving them up.
“It’s a good problem for New Zealand to have.”