The Wallabies head to Auckland needing to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park for the first time since 1986 to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is challenging his gritty charges to buck history for the second time in a week to keep alive Australia’s hopes of ending 12 years of Bledisloe Cup torment.
After denying the All Blacks a record 18th successive Test win in the series-opening 12-12 draw in Sydney, the Wallabies venture to Auckland on Saturday hunting a first victory at dreaded Eden Park since 1986.
Apart from the Wallabies losing 14 straight matches at New Zealand rugby’s fortress and spiritual home, the world champions are unbeaten against all comers to the ground in 32 Tests since falling 23-20 to France and drawing 18-18 with South Africa in 1994.
“We’ll hear all week about the history, but that’s history, you know, and we’re not living in the past,” McKenzie said on Sunday.
“Not many in the team were involved in the history of Eden Park.
“There’s been plenty of provincial success there from the different (Australian Super Rugby) teams, so they have actually won there.”
It’s been so long since Australia won at Eden Park that Adam Ashley-Cooper, Wycliff Palu and Sekope Kepu were the only Wallaby starters on Saturday night even born when legends David Campese, Michael Lynagh, Nick Farr-Jones and captain Andrew Slack orchestrated a 22-9 victory 28 years ago.
“It’s a fantastic motivator. So the more you write about it, the better I’ll feel about it because I’ll be telling the players,” McKenzie said.
“If you grab little bits of history along the way, that’s a significant team that can do that.
“So bring it on. I’m looking forward to the challenge of it.
“The last time I was at Eden Park, it was with the (Queensland) Reds. They hadn’t won there and we managed to win.”
While disappointed not to have triumphed at rain-soaked ANZ Stadium, the Wallabies can take heart from being the first team in 48 Tests and almost four years to stop the all-conquering All Blacks from converting a halftime advantage into victory.
“The good thing for us is that we were able to do things and create opportunities,” McKenzie said after his side recovered from 9-3 down to dominate the second half.
“The trick for us is to move forward and grab those, and you only had to grab one of them last night and you had a win.”
The Wallabies defied the dreadful conditions to carry the ball twice as much as the All Blacks and McKenzie vowed to persist with an attacking approach in Auckland.
But the canny coach will keep the All Blacks guessing until Tuesday before revealing whether or not he retains Kurtley Beale at five-eighth or recall Bernard Foley after the mercurial playmaker’s mixed performance in game one.
Beale kicked all of Australia’s 12 points with four successful shots from five attempts but, like most in the greasy conditions, also made several handling errors.
“You have to remove the emotion and have a look it,” McKenzie said.
“The more changes you make, the more combinations you put at risk.
“We’ve been working for a couple of weeks now and changes we make will be based on the tactical side of it because the injury side of it looks OK.”
Centre Matt Toomua and halfback Nic White have corks and No.8 Palu suffered a head knock, but all are expected to be available.
THE ALL BLACKS’ IMPOSING RECORD AGAINST THE WALLABIES AT EDEN PARK SINCE 1986
* 2012: All Blacks bt Wallabies 22-0
* 2011: All Blacks bt Wallabies 20-6
* 2011: All Blacks bt Wallabies 30-14
* 2009: All Blacks bt Wallabies 22-16
* 2008: All Blacks bt Wallabies 39-10
* 2007: All Blacks bt Wallabies 26-12
* 2006: All Blacks bt Wallabies 34-27
* 2005: All Blacks bt Wallabies 34-24
* 2003: All Blacks bt Wallabies 21-17
* 1999: All Blacks bt Wallabies 34-15
* 1995: All Blacks bt Wallabies 28-16
* 1991: All Blacks bt Wallabies 6-3
* 1990: All Blacks bt Wallabies 27-17
* 1989: All Blacks bt Wallabies 24-12
* 1986: Wallabies bt All Blacks 22-9
* The All Blacks are unbeaten against all teams at Eden Park in 32 straight Test wins since they lost 23-20 to France and drew 18-18 with South Africa in 1994.