Australia

Who can live with NZ pace and power?

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:05
Ewen-mckenzie-sydney-opera-

New Zealand remain the benchmark in international rugby, with their famed 'pace and power' simply too much for most teams.

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie admitted Australia will have to lift their game to a whole new level to beat the All Blacks and retrieve the Bledisloe Cup.

Australia are coming off a 3-0 Test sweep of France this month and are now on a seven-match winning streak - the first time since 2000 they have achieved the feat.

But all-conquering New Zealand will be a different ball game.

When the two sides meet in Sydney on August 16 in the first of three Bledisloe Cup showdowns, the rampaging All Blacks will be bidding for a record-breaking 18th consecutive Test victory.

It has been 12 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, and McKenzie admitted his team had a big task ahead.

"The All Blacks' intensity in the third Test against England, that's your benchmark," McKenzie said of New Zealand's 36-13 win in Hamilton last Saturday.

"They basically outplayed the English in terms of pace and power - and England's not a small squad.

"They've got very good players, but they weren't able to stick with the All Blacks in that first half.

"So that's what we've got to deal with. We start with that and say, 'How are we going to measure up there?'."

Despite New Zealand's domination in recent times, McKenzie said the Wallaby players mixing in with All Blacks and Springboks routinely in Super Rugby would be one advantage England didn't have.

"So in that sense, we've got a lot of familiarity and that's a positive, although we've had that for a long time and it hasn't helped us," he said.

"But I think we've gone to another level in terms of confidence and we've found a way of playing that suits us.

"Now we just need to get it tactically right and make sure we've got the right players."

The first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney is the opening game of the Rugby Championship, which also features South Africa and Argentina.

AFP

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