Rugby: Aussies not scary enough to niggle the All Blacks

NZ Herald rugby writers Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry break down three key questions as the All Blacks aim to break the world record.

1. What do the All Blacks have to do to ensure the Wallabies don't trip them up on the brink of the record this time?

Gregor Paul: They have to do what they have done in their last 17 tests - ensure they have everything clear in their heads, have absolute clarity about their individual roles and stay task focused. Embrace the opportunity and play with the same calm and accuracy that has been their hallmark of their consecutive run.

Patrick McKendry: Start well - and that means with accuracy and controlled fury. The second bit shouldn't be a problem given the recent history between these two teams. Julian Savea should also be involved early. If the Wallabies are forced to chase the game they will struggle.

2. Quade Cooper on Wallabies' reserves bench - admission of defeat or a smart selection?

GP: Probably smart to leave Quade in reserve. Eden Park has been a horrible place for him and the Wallabeis can't afford to have their No 10 fall aprt on them. Besides, the idea of playing two big men in the centre gives them some chance of getting over the gainline and building their attacks.

PM: A bit of both. Cooper has been a near liability on this ground in the past, but could provide a bit of X-factor late in the game if the Aussies are still in it. Personally, I wouldn't start him either.

3. Wallabies' approach - should they bring the niggle or concentrate on rugby this time?

GP: Probably best if they just get on with the game this time. They aren't hard enough or scary enough for the niggle to work. No one takes Dean Mumm seriously as it is and when he's all puffed up and mouthy, he's an easy figure to mock. The Wallabies can actually play a bit of rugby - and it is about time they showed that.

PM: They have to be smart - they can't allow themselves to be bullied by the All Blacks' pack, but they nearly lost the plot in Wellington with their off-the-ball nonsense, and ref Nigel Owens won't stand for that. They have to be very physical with and without the ball and attempt to knock the All Blacks off their game, but within the laws of the game.

- NZ Herald

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