All Blacks brace for hostile Perth reception

4 weeks ago 11
PR Distribution

This story was originally published on Stuff and is republished with permission

For a dead rubber Bledisloe, there sure seems to be some hostility floating about for the All Blacks ahead of their Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies in Perth next Sunday.

Newly extended head coach Ian Foster senses it, but at least felt relaxed enough about it to make light of the simmering tensions ahead of his team's departure for Perth on Thursday.

"I don't think they'll fall in love with us straight away," said Foster when asked about the hostile environment he expects to take his team into.

Watch every match of the Bledisloe Cup and The Rugby Championship with live, ad-free and on-demand coverage on Stan Sport

Ardie Savea of the All Blacks and Michael Hooper of the Wallabies exchange words. (Getty)

You sensed he was not exactly disappointed to have an extra edge on a clash that could otherwise have been a tricky one for his under-strength squad as it regathers after a difficult period at home under lockdown.

The All Blacks have already tucked the Bledisloe away for a 19th straight year after their record 57-22 victory over the Australians at Eden Park on August 14, leaving the trans-Tasman rivals to refocus on the four-nation championship for their third and final matchup of the year.

That will take place at Optus Stadium next Sunday afternoon (4pm AEST) in a clash that has been rescheduled multiple times on the back of the changing health protocols in both countries around COVID-19.

READ MORE: 'Open wounds' from trans-Tasman rugby spat

READ MORE: Queensland steps up to host Rugby Championship

READ MORE: Rennie 'bloody angry' after All Blacks snub

Highlights: Wallabies vs All Blacks 2st Test

And it was the last postponement that seemed to particularly get the Australians' backs up after the All Blacks failed to make the trip to Perth as planned for the August 28 clash.

With communication lines not exactly zinging between the two rugby organisations, both Rugby Australia and the Wallabies claimed to be blindsided by New Zealand Rugby's decision not to send the All Blacks across the Tasman while the championship schedule was still being hammered out.

Cue much gnashing of teeth and swirling of emotions out of Australia.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

All Blacks coach Ian Foster and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie at Sky Stadium. (Getty)

The Wallabies' Kiwi coach, Dave Rennie, who once worked for NZ Rugby, unloaded.

He said he was "bloody angry" after only learning of the decision via social media, was disappointed by the lack of appropriate communication and accused the Kiwi organisation of a "lack of respect" as well as being selfish.

"I just feel there's only one of us who are interested in doing what's best for the game," Rennie said.

Big Brodie strikes for NZ

"We've all made sacrifices to ensure that the games are played for the financial benefit of everyone and the good of the game.

"New Zealand's attitude to not honouring their commitment is really disappointing. It's all about them and without any concept of what it's doing over here."

Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos unleashed in similar fashion, further clouding a trans-Tasman relationship that has been described in Australia as being at its lowest ebb.

Wallabies' 'boomerang' haka response

Foster made it clear his team went to Australia with their consciences clear.

"Now we know with certainty that us, South Africa and Argentina are all turning up, that there is going to be a Rugby Championship, it's given us real confidence," he said.

"There might be a little bit of explaining to do. We can't control that. We're confident in the decisions that have been made on our side of the Tasman, and all signs are common-sense has prevailed and hopefully we'll resort to a normal level of hostility before a Wallabies-All Blacks game."

ABs record breaking try

And in the best traditions of bridge-building Foster said he thought the right decision had been made to stage the rest of the competition, post-Perth, in Queensland, and not in the northern hemisphere which had been the other compelling option.

"They did a good job getting that organised," said the newly extended All Blacks coach.

"It wasn't their fault the quarantine rules changed for bringing South Africa and Argentina in, and the reality is while there was a lot of tension last week, they've worked hard to get the tournament into Australia.

Another intercept kills Wallabies

"I really believe Australia deserved first opportunity to pull it off."

Foster's attentions will now turn to getting a revamped lineup up to speed for Perth. Already shorn three starters (Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo'unga have all stayed behind for baby arrivals), it's likely he will stick otherwise close to his record-breakers from Eden Park.

He is set to name a new captain any moment, with Ardie Savea and Codie Taylor the leading contenders.

Beauden Barrett watches brother Jordie drink from the Bledisloe Cup. (Getty)

The new faces should all slot in seamlessly, with Scott Barrett likely to step up at lock, TJ Perenara at halfback and Beauden Barrett at No.10 in a switcheroo that had been well planned for.

"We always knew Richie was going to miss a couple of Tests round this time," said Foster.

"I was really pleased with Beaudy off the bench at Eden Park. He looked like he's in really good form. You don't need to be Einstein to know there's a nice window of time for him now, and that's great. He's been hanging out for an opportunity."

McKenzie lands monster penalty

Foster confirmed Damian McKenzie would be principal backup at No.10, though David Havili and Jordie Barrett could also provide "short-term" cover.

It remains to be seen whether he persists with McKenzie at fullback, or gives the younger Barrett a long-overdue crack.

The All Blacks coach also clarified the likely return-to-play timelines around Joe Moody (foot) and Ofa Tuungafasi (knee) who were included in an eight-strong prop contingent that jetted out Thursday

"They're both trending well. We were hoping Joe would be able to play in the NPC this weekend, so we could maybe look at Argentina one and Ofa is maybe a week behind that."

This story was originally published on Stuff and is republished with permission

Read Entire Article