AUCKLAND // Will Genia, the Australia scrum-half, says the Wallabies line-up will test Aaron Cruden, New Zealand's new starting fly-half, in their Rugby World Cup semi-final this weekend.
Cruden has become the All Blacks' latest starter at No 10 following groin injuries to Dan Carter and Colin Slade, his replacement.
Sunday's match at Eden Park will be only his second Test start, and Genia said on Tuesday he will be one of Australia's targets. "He's not that big a bloke," he said, "so we'll chuck a bit of traffic at him and see if we can wear him down."
Genia expects Cruden to cope, primarily because of the experience around him in the New Zealand scrum-half, Piri Weepu, and the midfielders, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, all of whom play with him for the Wellington Hurricanes in Super 15.
"Cruden's still doing the job. He's an attacking sort of player, he likes to take the line on," Genia said.
"The guys around him like Conrad and Nonu, they've got a good combination already. Weepu's inside him and he's stepped up. Still, if Nonu went down they'd struggle a bit, because of his ability to not only force the ball, but also play the ball as well. They can't replace Carter, but Cruden's form doesn't make [losing Carter] as bad."
Genia said the contest between Cruden and Australia counterpart, Quade Cooper, will be interesting. Cooper was indecisive in the 11-9 quarter-final win over South Africa last weekend, but Genia said he is yet to see his Queensland teammate play two bad games in a row.
"He's someone who loves playing on the big stage," he said. "I reckon he'll come out and bounce back positively and do real well."
Genia and Cooper were not born when Australia last beat New Zealand at Eden Park in 1986. They came along two years later, but Genia said they were confident they could set a new precedent.
"I don't know if I could be more confident," he said. "I don't want to sound arrogant, I'm not that sort of bloke. I really believe in the guys we have in this group. We showed on the weekend we cannot only win through skill but also team spirit."