WELLINGTON • Australia will be a "different beast" to the side that suffered back-to-back thrashings by the All Blacks in August when they line up for the Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland on Saturday, according to New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino.
The Wallabies were destroyed by the All Blacks in the opening two matches of the Rugby Championship. But they found some form in winning three of their last four games in the tournament against South Africa and Argentina to finish second.
The All Blacks have not lost to Australia at Eden Park in 30 years and are currently riding a 17-match winning streak, a record for Tier One nations shared with South Africa (1997-98).
But Kaino is mindful of the Wallabies' history of bursting bubbles.
He was a member of the team that lost 24-26 to Australia in Hong Kong in 2010, which ended a 15-match winning streak.
The 33-year-old was also a part of the 12-12 draw in Sydney which snapped their 17-match streak in 2014.
"They do rise to the challenges, and this is one of them," Kaino told the media at training yesterday.
"We've spoken about that they will be better and they will rise to the occasion.
"We know they're not going to lie down. There's nothing more they'd like than to spoil our party.
"Australia will be a different beast this time round, a lot better than when we played them last in Wellington."
Humiliated 42-8 in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, a more abrasive Australia turned up in Wellington but were still trounced 29-9.
The visitors are likely to be reinforced by back-rower and breakdown enforcer David Pocock, who has been sidelined for over a month with a broken hand.
The setback continued the openside flanker's wretched run with injuries during a chequered playing career, which has included two knee reconstructions, ankle and calf trouble and a fractured eye socket.
But the 28-year-old came through a non-contact training session on Monday and is hopeful of being ready for the match.
The All Blacks will be without Aaron Smith for another week after the scrum-half voluntarily stood down for the match on Monday.
He was disciplined after revelations that he had a tryst with a woman in a disabled users' toilet at Christchurch airport last month.
Waikato Chiefs half-back Augustine Pulu has been drafted in as cover but T.J. Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow are expected to be named as the half-backs.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE