Michael Cheika says All Blacks believe they'll easily beat Wallabies

By Jamie Pandaram

Tevita Kuridrani reacts during Australia's defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney earlier this year. Photosport
Tevita Kuridrani reacts during Australia's defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney earlier this year. Photosport

The All Blacks believe they will defeat Australia easily in Auckland this weekend to set a new record for most successive Test wins, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika claims.

And the statistics suggest New Zealand has every right to think so, given the nature of their record-equalling streak and the fact Australia has not beaten them at Eden Park for 30 years.

Cheika said that after his team suffered huge back-to-back defeats to the All Blacks earlier this year to remain without the Bledisloe Cup for a 14th straight year, the Kiwis would not be worried about what the Wallabies could offer up on Saturday in the dead-rubber.

Asked if going for the record 18th straight Test win - a mark never achieved by a tier-one nation - would heap pressure on the All Blacks, Cheika replied: "I don't think it adds pressure to them, like I've said before they'd be thinking they'll do it easy.

"We haven't really tested them this year.

"They scored [six tries] in the first game, four in the second game, so I don't think they'll be too stressed about us."

The All Blacks have not lost a match since August 8, 2015, when the Wallabies prevailed 27-19 against them in Sydney.

They rebounded to smash the Wallabies in Auckland, and have proceeded to demolish all before them in a run that includes winning last year's World Cup, and then this year's Rugby Championship with an unprecedented six bonus-points wins.

While Australia finished second in the Rugby Championship, they have won just three of nine Tests in 2016, have beaten the All Blacks just three times in their past 28 encounters, and have not won in Auckland's graveyard since Alan Jones's side prevailed 22-9 in 1986. Only 10 players featuring in Saturday's match were born when that happened.

Adding to Australia's seemingly impossible task is the lack of form of their locks, who have been targeted mercilessly by the Kiwis at lineout time in their past three games, leading Cheika to chop and change his combinations this year.

"I don't think I'd be talking out of school saying those guys have been inconsistent in that area, I want them to be more consistent and I want them to bring a bit more in the game - that's the engine room in the game," Cheika said.

"It's nothing I haven't told them either, I want them to stand up and be counted, they're the big men in the middle of the pack and I'm looking for locks who will stand up and be counted in the battle."

But Cheika has been heartened by improvements in attack and defence since their limp 29-9 defeat to New Zealand in August.

"We've just got a bit more connected in what we're trying to do, we've got a totally different set of playmakers so from our attack we're starting to get a bit more shape together," Cheika said.

"Obviously we'll come up against a very hard defence, they've been bringing very fast line speed, but that's the part I've been happy with.

"Our work rate in defence as well, we've really curbed the number of line breaks and tries against us over the last few matches and that comes with improved fitness.

"I feel like our guys are getting more experienced, they know what it's like.

"Look at a guy like Samu and how he was when he started off in the England series and what he did and how he's starting to move on, that's a pretty accurate symbol of where the team's at."

As for the Eden Park hoodoo, Cheika said: "It's obviously proven to be a tough place for us to go and play but I'm old fashioned.

"I look forward to it. Bring it on."

- news.com.au

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