Wallabies to spoil All Black party?
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:09
We've come a long way as a group
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie is cautious not to look too far ahead, but he made it clear Australia will not hand New Zealand the world record on a silver platter.
McKenzie on Wednesday named a 32-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship - with few surprises, sticking with the group that is enjoying a seven-match winning streak.
The Wallabies face the All Blacks in the opening match of the competition, which doubles up as a Bledisloe Cup Test, in Sydney on August 16.
McKenzie, who warned the Wallabies will have to lift their standards considerably if their are to beat the all-conquering All Blacks, also made it clear they are determined to end their own seven-match losing streak against the Kiwis.
"We understand a great deal of attention going into the match will be around the All Blacks and their motivation to create a new piece of history - by winning a world-record 18th consecutive Test," the Wallaby mentor said.
New Zealand, on 17 consecutive victories, share the world record with South Africa - their last defeat having been at the hands of England at Twickenham in December 2012.
And it has been 12 years since the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, and McKenzie acknowledged the weight of expectation.
"For us, its no secret that our desire to win back the Bledisloe Cup grows every year, but if our attention isn't focused on the right areas during our preparations then it will be easy to get caught looking too far ahead.
"We recognise that and will have a clear understanding of how we are going to approach and prepare for the opening game."
McKenzie said the familiarity of the squad would be beneficial ahead of the opening round.
"We've come a long way as a group over the past 12 months and the consistency were now applying across selections, high-performance behaviours and our playing style is a positive sign that we are heading in the right direction," he said.
"The challenge for us now is to continue this consistency throughout the Rugby Championship, beginning with a Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand."
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