Rugby: Wallabies playing for their careers

By Wynne Gray

Newly-promoted halfback Alby Mathewson feeds the scrum during the All Blacks training session yesterday at Linwood. Photo / Getty Images
Newly-promoted halfback Alby Mathewson feeds the scrum during the All Blacks training session yesterday at Linwood. Photo / Getty Images

Wallaby coach Robbie Deans has gone for twin Faingaa changes and promised more if his side does not front for tomorrow's sudden-death Bledisloe Cup shootout.

Hooker Saia and midfielder Anthony are the first twins to start for the Wallabies since Mark and Glenn Ella played in the 29-7 victory against Italy 27 years ago.

The pair brought some unfettered emotion and humour as they talked about their elevation, while Adam Ashley-Cooper has switched to centre to replace the injured Rob Horne and Kurtley Beale has been promoted to fullback.

Hooker Stephen Moore and midfielder Berrick Barnes have been benched with Cameron Shepherd the new reserve if he recovers fully from the flu.

Saia is the elder Faingaa twin of Tongan and Aboriginal bloodlines, by five minutes, which, he mischievously said, meant he sat in the front seat of the family car and Anthony in the boot.

"This is kind of surreal. We were contemplating playing Super 14 together and now we are on the world arena with the Wallabies is unbelievable and to have your best mate doing it with you is a pretty great honour," Saia said.

It was going to be a great moment in their family and, already, there had been many tears of joy.

Deans said the pair showed similar combative traits which the Wallabies would need in Christchurch tomorrow.

"The All Blacks have played very good rugby, a game that suits them and they build confidence from the back of that," he said. "The possibilities are there for all teams but they have been the most successful so far."

The Wallabies had picked through a great deal of detail about their failures in Melbourne and areas where they succeeded against the All Blacks.

"Clearly, if we are that inaccurate again then the experience will be similar because you can't give the All Blacks that amount of possession and also deny yourselves those opportunities to build pressure," Deans said.

There had been selection consequences from Melbourne and if this week's result was similar, there might have to be more. "We are up against a very good side but we can't chase our tails. We have to maximise our continuity where we feel it surfaces best."

Restarts, discipline, penalties - the Wallabies had been through the lot. The Wallabies had conceded fewer penalties than the All Blacks but suffered more.

While the twins have not started a test against the All Blacks, Ashley-Cooper has suffered through eight consecutive defeats.

"New Zealand have performed out of their skin and are playing their best rugby they have over the last couple of years. At the moment they are the benchmark," Ashley-Cooper said.

The difference between the sides was not too much - perhaps some critical moments where the All Blacks took their chances and the Wallabies missed the jump.

It was not a mental block because the Wallabies believed they could beat the All Blacks and it was not a hoodoo, just a bigger challenge.

"We came from such a high in Brisbane [against the Boks] to such a low in Melbourne that this is one we really want to get back."

"A betting man would say the odds are in our favour - I mean zero from eight," Ashley-Cooper joked before he became more serious.

"It is going to be tough. They are playing the best rugby in the world at the moment. We are here in Christchurch on their home ground facing some tough conditions but it is more of a challenge and exciting for me and the team."

- NZ Herald

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