Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Bledisloe Cup: Australia 'hungry' to end 17-year drought as Steve Hansen rings changes to All Blacks squad

Wallabies need to win at Eden Park for the first time since 1986 to get their hands on the trophy

Australia coach Michael Cheika is aware of the challenge that awaits his team in Auckland. Getty Images
Australia coach Michael Cheika is aware of the challenge that awaits his team in Auckland. Getty Images

Australia coach Michael Cheika has warned that is players are "hungry" to end the 17-year Bledisloe Cup drought when they take on New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Wallabies stunned the world champions 47-26 in Perth last weekend and head to Auckland needing another win to claim the trans-Tasman silverware for the first time since 2002.

An All Blacks victory would level the series and see them retain the trophy as holders, gaining a psychological edge heading into their World Cup title defence in Japan next month.

"We know we haven't had it for a long time and we're hungry to get it, to go there and do our best and try and take the trophy," Cheika said ahead of the team's departure from Melbourne.

"We know we're going to come up against an excellent opponent who is ready to go as well. That's why the game is so looked forward to and anticipated."

Cheika named an unchanged side, apart from one injury-enforced absence, as he looks to build on their record win in the Bledisloe Cup opener.

The only change is Adam Coleman, who will start his first Test of 2019, replacing giant lock Rory Arnold who hurt his hand in Perth, with Rob Simmons among the reserves.

Despite last week's win, Australia face a mammoth task on Saturday. They have not tasted victory at Eden Park since 1986 with the All Blacks on a 42-match unbeaten streak at the Auckland venue.

"Obviously when you play New Zealand you know you're going to get the quality of play, the physicality as well. You know you're going to get that every time from them," said Cheika. "Like I said last week, when they have 15 on the field it's like they have 20.

"We just want to build on our footy and have a really good attitude. We know how much this (Bledisloe Cup) means to a lot of Aussies."

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has made changes to his squad for Eden Park. Getty Images
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has made changes to his squad for Eden Park. Getty Images

Meanwhile, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen insisted he was "loving it" as he axed three senior players and demanded a 200 per cent improvement from his forwards.

Hansen showed no mercy after last week's thrashing dumping prop Owen Franks and wings Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane - a combined total of 213 Test caps - for the return match.

"They're not playing so you can say they've been dropped," Hansen said on Thursday, with the highly rated trio not even making the bench.

In their place is the relatively raw talent of Nepo Laulala (18 Tests), George Bridge (three) and Sevu Reece (one).

"Obviously, we'd like to see Ben, Owen and Rieko playing better but we've made the decision because we've got to find out more about these other people in pressure-cooker situations and you don't get much bigger than this," Hansen said.

"We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think that the guys we put in aren't good enough to do the job on Saturday if we play well. I don't think it's a risk and there's lots of reward in it.

"I'm loving it. This is the best challenge we could get prior to going to a World Cup," Hansen added. "We didn't front up last week and we need to front up this week or [the trophy] will be going back to Australia."

Updated: August 15, 2019 04:38 PM

SHARE

SHARE

Editor's Picks