Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Wallabies rejigged for another shot

The All Blacks' winning streak is only two but they are heavyweight favourites to add to that run and retain the Bledisloe Cup tonight.

Those obstacles fire up the Wallabies, although there are doubts whether they really believe they are good enough to bruise the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in Robbie Deans' reign.

That results chart shows the All Blacks winning 13 tests and the Wallabies just three times in Sydney, Hong Kong and Brisbane.

New skipper Will Genia may be a handy talisman for the Wallabies to alter that sequence.

He is a terrifically classy halfback who must be dismayed by the lack of consistent clout around him, but he brought a practical upbeat view on the task ahead of his side at Eden Park.

"We have not been too successful and so the criticism comes," he said.

The solution was how the Wallabies dealt with that and how the senior players reacted.

There had been encouraging signs at training but that had been the case in Sydney before they made too many mistakes to win the Bledisloe Cup opener.

The Wallabies' flight to New Zealand was delayed for three hours in Sydney but they trained yesterday and then revealed a reserves bench without Tatafu Polota Nau, whose bruised backside was still uncomfortable.

Coach Robbie Deans has endured all the dramas and rejigged his side for what may be also be a crucial play in his employment.

Little has changed down the rugby ages; the same principles apply if the Wallabies are to turn around their Bledisloe fortunes.

"The All Blacks are a good side, they are on top of the world and they are playing with that confidence," Deans said.

"They have a lot of experience, good decision-makers and are surrounded by some genuine capability and enthusiasm. It is a potent mix."

Pressure on the Wallabies is right across the group and even more so after the injury defections of David Pocock, Sekope Kepu and Polota Nau.

But Genia is the sort of player whose personal deeds have lifted the Wallabies and Reds to victories they might otherwise have failed to claim. His threat is writ large in all the All Blacks playlist and defensive duties.

The Wallabies have worked on broadening their game and spreading the attacking load so they raise the odds of prising gaps open across the field.

They wanted to put pressure across the entire team rather than a few individuals.

Genia is reunited with his state five-eighths Quade Cooper tonight and that pairing should give the side an attacking lift.

Cooper was in a good space despite his strange training ground interaction with the Australian media.

Genia had not read or taken in those events, he was concentrating on tonight's task.

Deans said the All Blacks speed on defence and their ability to yield only static possession interrupted the Wallabies flow in Sydney.

"Front foot is key, both these sides like to play, both these combinations have the capacity to play and that is what they are known for but which one is able to play will be very much determined by those factors."

- NZ Herald

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