Australia coach Michael Cheika admitted Sunday thatRugby Championship title rivals New Zealand are the best side in the world.
“They (the All Blacks) are the best,” conceded Cheika after two late tries earned a bonus-point 34-9 second-round victory over disappointing Argentina Saturday in western city Mendoza.
The result left the Wallabies and the All Blacks level on nine points ahead of an August 8 Championship decider in Sydney.
“It is a little closer this year,” the 2014 Super 15-winning coach said, referring to the southern hemisphere rugby pecking order.
“But look at what the All Blacks did in Johannesburg this weekend — I think they beat South Africa pretty easily in the end.
“New Zealand are the best team in the world by a long way at this stage.
“It is going to be a big challenge playing them in Sydney because they are such a good side,” said Cheika.
“We have got to work really hard over the next couple of weeks, plan thoroughly and ensure we run out at ANZ Stadium ready to make Australian rugbysupporters proud.
“I cannot predict how the game will go, but I know that we will be ready to show our pride.”
Wallabies skipper and hooker Stephen Moore echoed the views of his coach.
“It is going to be a massive game at our ground in Sydney and we are really looking forward to facing the All Blacks,” he said.
“They are a quality side for sure, but we have two weeks to study them and prepare a strategy.”
Australia put a shock loss to Argentina in Mendoza last year behind them by scoring four tries for an ultimately comfortable victory after leading 8-6 at half-time.
A try midway through the second half by recalled lock Dean Mumm after an undetected forward pass put the match beyond the Pumas and centre Tevita Kuridrani and winger Adam Ashley-Cooper claimed the late tries.
“It is always difficult to come over here and win so we are happy,” said recently appointed skipper Moore.
“After slipping up in Mendoza last year, tonight (Saturday) was very good and I am proud of the performance.”
While delighted with two victories as the mid-September kick-off of the World Cup in England draws near, Cheika must be concerned about the goal-kicking form of fly-half Bernard Foley.
The recalled playmaker succeeded with only five of nine shots at the posts, and some of the misses at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas were very kickable.
Bottom of the table with no points and only two tries from two Championship outings, Argentina are away to third-place South Africa in the final round.
Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez improved on a shocking showing in New Zealand last weekend and there was some exciting backline running from deep positions.
But while a rugby nation famed for scrummaging did trouble the Wallabies in that area during the opening half, many line-out wins delivered untidy possession. – Agence France-Presse