All Blacks eye his­tory in ‘mas­sive’ game

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The All Blacks said they were primed to make his­tory and Aus­tralia did their best to shut down the hype yes­ter­day as the world cham­pi­ons seek a record-break­ing 18th con­sec­u­tive Test win.

De­spite a pres­sure-laden build-up, cap­tain Kieran Read was in a re­laxed and jovial mood ahead of yes­ter­day’s game at Auckland’s Eden Park, which has been a fortress for the All Blacks. “The boys are ex­cited. We’re up for this chal­lenge. It’s go­ing to be a mas­sive game, I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it,” said Read. “Ob­vi­ously, it hasn’t been done in the his­tory of tierone na­tions. As a game against Aus­tralia, we’ve got to pre­pare like all the other games where we’ve been suc­cess­ful.” Vic­tory on Satur­day would break a 47-year-old record which was set by New Zealand in 1965-1969 and has been equalled twice, by South Africa in 1997-1998 and the All Blacks in 2013-2014. The hosts have won their last 35 Tests at Eden Park, where Aus­tralia haven’t tasted suc­cess for 30 years-but the Wal­la­bies do have a habit of snap­ping All Blacks win­ning streaks. In 2010 they stopped a run of 15 All Blacks vic­to­ries. They halted a 16-match win­ning streak in 2012 and two years later, a 12-12 draw in Syd­ney left the All Blacks stranded on 17. But while the All Blacks named their strong­est pos­si­ble line-up, the Wal­la­bies opted for an ex­per­i­men­tal team. Coach Michael Cheika made four changes to their side that beat Ar­gentina 33-21 two weeks ago, say­ing he wanted a “dif­fer­ent feel” for the game as he looked to the fu­ture. The Wal­la­bies this year have been way be­low the form that took them to the World Cup fi­nal 11 months ago and for Cheika, it meant go­ing back to the draw­ing board. “We un­der­stand that in­stead of moan­ing and com­plain­ing about not hav­ing depth we’ve got to go out there and cre­ate,” he said, adding that play­ing the All Blacks “will be ex­cel­lent in giv­ing us ex­pe­ri­ence.”

‘NOT JUST ANOTHER GAME’

Most of Aus­tralia’s cur­rent play­ers weren’t even born when the Wal­la­bies last won in Auckland, but Cheika was not in­ter­ested in re­vis­it­ing his­tory. “Ev­ery Test match is a big oc­ca­sion. If we start think­ing about those things and think­ing what’s not pos­si­ble you’ll come up with a neg­a­tive an­swer,” he said Fri­day af­ter putting his side through their one train­ing run in New Zealand. “You’d be blind not to see that we haven’t done well here for a fair while but if you don’t have the dream or con­cep­tion in­side that you can go out there and do it then it’s never go­ing to hap­pen.” Al­though the All Blacks are over­whelm­ing favourites, Read said the All Blacks knew from past ex­pe­ri­ence that they couldn’t take the Wal­la­bies lightly. “We’ve learned that it isn’t just another game. When you’ve got some­thing on the line op­po­si­tions raise their game and we’ve got to cer­tainly raise ours,” he said. — AFP

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