A convincing display is needed to quell concerns the ageing team could be following the same path as the 1991 World Cup team.
The venue was Eden Park. The year was 1991. The Rugby World Cup holders, New Zealand, were playing Australia at a time when fears about some of the ageing members of the team were emerging. A recent comprehensive 12-21 defeat by the Wallabies in Sydney had heightened concerns that defending the Webb Ellis Trophy in the coming tournament in the British Isles would prove a bridge too far.
As it was, the All Blacks ground out a 6-3 victory. New Zealanders were reassured that this was still a winning team. The World Cup, however, was to show the performance to have been a dead-cat bounce.
Twenty-four years later, the similarities are uncanny. Yet much has happened in the meantime. We no longer take so much for granted. We now know how difficult it is for the All Blacks to claim the World Cup on foreign soil.
Domination of the international game is no more a guarantee of success now than it was in 1991. We also know more of the potential stumbling blocks, none more so than retaining players past their prime.
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Whether that is the case now, or whether the All Blacks have been keeping much of their ammunition dry, will be revealed to a significant extent at Eden Park tonight.
Retaining the Bledisloe Cup is important, and the All Blacks cannot regard this as merely another lead-up game to the World Cup. To calm the nerves of their supporters and show they are not merely papering over cracks, they will have to win in a far more convincing manner than in 1991.