Wallabies defeats at Eden Park have become a bit like leadership coups in Australian politics – they tend to happen every year or so – and so while coach Michael Cheika will this week probably rubbish the idea of a "hoodoo", for the players themselves it appears to be alive and well.

Veteran hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, all business these days with a short-back-and-sides haircut, brought up the Eden Park factor himself at his team's Waiheke Island base today.

Polota-Nau will want a vastly improved scrum and lineout performance from his pack on Saturday in a test which will determine whether the competition for the Bledisloe Cup stays relevant for the third of the series in Tokyo in October, but just as great a motivation will be winning only his second match at the All Blacks' fortress.

Polota-Nau, 33, was aged just one when the Wallabies last won at Eden Park in 1986; his sole win there came for the Waratahs against the Blues in 2009.


"There's no better challenge for us as a whole group… to not even consider whatever they call the 'hoodoo' of Eden Park," Polota-Nau said. "I've played there quite a few times. I've only managed to win there once, but in saying that, we just have to make sure we use that one opportunity … that's my biggest motivator – to win again at Eden Park."

His teammate alongside him, outside back Jack Maddocks, has played at Eden Park once and has a 100 per cent record. "I won with the Rebels [this year], so what hoodoo?" Maddocks quipped.

Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks is tackled by Michael Hooper of the Wallabies during The Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match. Photo / Getty Images.
Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks is tackled by Michael Hooper of the Wallabies during The Rugby Championship Bledisloe Cup match. Photo / Getty Images.

Warming to his task, the 21-year-old Maddocks, who scored his team's only try in his debut test last weekend, the 38-13 defeat at ANZ Stadium, said he would be happy to provide a shoulder for his teammates to lean on.

The outside back is a good chance to replace injured fullback Israel Folau and appears to have the fearless spirit which the rest of his teammates will need in order to overturn a run of 17 consecutive defeats on the All Blacks' favourite piece of grass.

A change in attitude is something Cheika has recognised as important and is part of the reason why he has based his side at the Waiheke Island Resort Hotel overlooking Palm Beach and the Pacific Ocean. They arrived under the cover of darkness on Sunday night and rather than checking into the same old hotel downtown they were forced to explore a very different base with a very different atmosphere.

Will that change the weight of history? Not unless they improve their set piece markedly against an All Blacks outfit which will be celebrating yet another significant milestone a week after Sam Whitelock's 100th test.

This time it's Owen Franks who will reach the three-figure mark, the ninth All Black to do so and fifth Crusader.

"I've had too many collisions with that bloke," said the affable Polota-Nau. "It's a testament to his character in terms of being a team man but also being really resilient. A lot of them have come from the Crusaders and they are… so resilient so it's no wonder they get to reach 100 caps. It will be another great test to come up against him and hopefully we get the upper hand on him this time."


Polota-Nau might get some high-quality reinforcements in the form of props Scott Sio and Taniela Tupou, and said the message from Cheika this week would be "quite simple".

"We need to be in contention for the Bledisloe, so we have to make sure we do everything we can to get the win because although we haven't won there [for a while], it's an even bigger challenge that we're one-nil down in the series," he said.

Maddocks said: "We have to keep the intensity the whole 80 minutes. I think we started well [last week], we've just got to keep putting pressure on the ABs and hopefully we'll start to see them crack."