Wallabies play down NZ fear factor

The All Blacks aren’t invincible but Australia will have to be a whole lot more clinical to beat them, says Wallabies winger Dane Haylett-Petty.

The race for this year’s Rugby Championship title appears all but over following New Zealand’s dominant start to the competition.

The Kiwis thrashed the Wallabies home and away before overcoming a stern challenge from Argentina on Saturday to post a 57-22 win.

Second spot now appears to be the best Australia, Argentina and South Africa can hope for.

Australia have beaten NZ just once since 2011 and lost to them 34-17 in last year’s World Cup final.

They’ll get another chance for revenge when they face off against the All Blacks at Eden Park on October 22.

Haylett-Petty on Monday described the All Blacks as a “step ahead” of everyone else but played down the fear factor of confronting them.

“I don’t think they’re unbeatable,” he said.

“They’re definitely playing some great football at the moment.

“Even the Argies are playing well and they got comprehensively beaten at the weekend.

“But there’s so many areas that when we look back at those two games (we lost to them), we could have improved.”

The Wallabies broke their six-match losing streak last weekend with a 23-17 triumph over South Africa.

They have the chance to make it two wins on the trot when they take on Argentina in Perth on Saturday night.

Although the match will be played on Haylett Petty’s home ground, it won’t be entirely familiar territory for the Western Force star.

His preferred position is fullback but with Israel Folau holding down the No.15 jersey in the Wallabies’ set-up, Haylett-Petty has been forced to adapt on the wing.

The 27-year-old has performed solidly in six Tests and is gaining valuable experience from playing in an unfamiliar position.

“Playing on the wing in the long run is going to make me a better fullback,” he said.

“It’s going to make me a more complete player.

“At fullback you get so many opportunities with the ball. On the wing it comes and goes, so you float in and out of the game. That’s a new challenge for me.

“If (coach Michael Cheika) decides to keep Izzy there at fullback for the long term, I’ll hopefully develop into a world-class winger.”

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