Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Tahs rise boost for Wallabies - Foster

Conrad Smith just wants the Crusaders to win. Photo / APN
Conrad Smith just wants the Crusaders to win. Photo / APN

After the disarray of last year - a series defeat to the Lions and the sacking of coach Robbie Deans - the Wallabies seem to be tracking in the right direction, and All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster believes a Super Rugby title for the Waratahs would boost them even further.

Australia showed in their series clean sweep of France in June that Ewen McKenzie's message is beginning to get through. After a tough start as coach - only two wins in his first eight tests and they were against Argentina - McKenzie's reign is gathering momentum.

Victory for the Waratahs over the Crusaders at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday would result in their first championship. It would also be their 11th win in succession for a team containing several key Wallabies and the belief is likely to be sky high ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup test in the city a fortnight later.

"They certainly grew a lot last year," Foster said of the Wallabies. "You could sense when we played them to watching them on the end-of-year tour, I thought they played well on that tour and showed some development.

Clearly they are making some gains ... I think the Waratahs success [in hosting the final] is going to boost their confidence a little bit but we're also equally reasonably happy with where we are at.

"It would be nice to see the Crusaders win in Sydney, knowing we're going to be there in two weeks, but certainly it's not going to be a big indicator," Foster said.

The All Blacks officially began their Rugby Championship campaign minus their eight Crusaders in Auckland yesterday.

The training will continue today before the squad disperse and meet up again next Thursday.

Centre Conrad Smith, who will turn out for Wellington against Manawatu at the Hutt Recreation Ground tomorrow, wasn't so sure about the significance of the Super Rugby final.

"From a Kiwi point of view I just want them [the Crusaders] to win."


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