Wallabies braced for NZ 'black-lash'

The Wallabies looking on as the All Blacks perform their famed Haka before their Bledisloe Cup match at the Perth Stadium on Saturday.
The Wallabies looking on as the All Blacks perform their famed Haka before their Bledisloe Cup match at the Perth Stadium on Saturday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

All Blacks host Australia in Auckland, bent on avenging Saturday's loss to arch-rivals

MELBOURNE • Australia expect the chastened All Blacks to fire up and raise their "physical" game at their Eden Park fortress on Saturday as the world champions look to bounce back from the Perth upset and retain the Bledisloe Cup.

The Wallabies thrashed the All Blacks 47-26 at Perth Stadium to take the annual trans-Tasman series into a decider and lift Australia's hopes of reclaiming the trophy for the first time since 2002.

It was also a huge boost for Michael Cheika's side six weeks away from the World Cup in Japan.

Rookie No. 8 Isi Naisarani said the match was the most bruising of his three Tests to date. But he expected the All Blacks, who were reduced to 14 men on the stroke of half-time due to a red card to lock Scott Barrett, to go up a level at a venue where they have been unbeaten since a 23-20 loss to France in 1994.

"They're going to come hard at us. They're going to (be) fired up and yeah, they're going to be physical as well," Naisarani said in Melbourne yesterday. "So we need to mess them up."

Australia have not beaten the All Blacks at the Auckland cauldron since 1986 but will arrive this week believing they can end that drought, with the All Blacks in a rare state of disorganisation.

With Barrett suspended for three weeks for his dangerous charge on captain Michael Hooper and Brodie Retallick battling a shoulder injury, the home side are short of second-row forwards. In-form centre Jack Goodhue will also miss the match with a hamstring injury, though able replacements abound.

Australia, meanwhile, can look forward to the return of world-class loose forward David Pocock, who is expected to be available for selection after battling a serious calf injury for months.

There are off-the-field issues for Australia to deal with, though.

Israel Folau's unfair dismissal case against Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs will head to trial next February if no settlement is reached beforehand.

Folau, 30, is fighting the termination of his four-year contract in May after he posted on social media saying hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others.

The lawyer for the former Australia full-back faced the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne yesterday for a directions hearing where chief judge Will Alstergren encouraged the parties to mediate their dispute on Dec 13.

Should mediation fail, the case will proceed to trial on Feb 4 next year. Folau, who has cast the legal challenge as a fight for religious freedom, is seeking an apology from Rugby Australia, the right to resume his international career and up to A$10 million (S$9.38 million) in compensation.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'Wallabies braced for NZ 'black-lash''. Print Edition | Subscribe