Steve Hansen is holding to the ABC of rugby to have the All Blacks “fizzing” when they confront Australia in the World Cup final on Saturday.
In the build up to the finale, theories are swirling around about which side has the upper hand.
The arch rivals have both won the World Cup twice, and on current form they have played each other twice this year for a win each.
Saturday’s showdown will not only decide the World Cup but also give the winner an edge in their longstanding rivalry.
Australia coach Michael Cheika has tried to take the underdog role saying his Wallabies will need “something extra just to be competitive.” But it is a line that Hansen dismisses.
“It’s the old ABCs — assume somethings, believe nothing and confirm them when you get out there,” push the said.
The All Blacks have consulted the weather forecast for Saturday — fine and warm — reviewed tapes of the Wallabies World Cup form and Hansen had the draught of his game plan ready early in the week.
Although the entire squad has been declared fit and available there are some still feeling the impact of Saturday’s 20-18 victory in a bruising semi-final against South Africa.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who is developing a reputation as a livewire finishing scrum-half after Aaron Smith has guided the ship for 60 minutes, said their preparations were intensifying as the week progressed.
“The coaches have given us our game plan, the way we want to go about things, and we’ll just build into that and the physicality will come later on in the week,” he said.
“We don’t want to play our game too early. we’ll keep building up into it and by the time Saturday comes we’ll be fizzing.”
Former Australian scrum-half George Gregan fired off one of the great sledges in World Cup history after the Wallabies tipped All Blacks out of the 2003 World Cup in the semi-finals
“Four more years, boys!” he mocked as the disconsolate All Blacks left the field.
It was to be eight years, in fact, when the All Blacks next reached a final and they did so by beating Australia in the 2011 semis.
Keven Mealamu, who played in both of those Tests as did Richie McCaw, said they were no longer a talking point within the team.
“There’s been plenty of water under the bridge since then. That was a different situation to what we’re in now,” he said.
Lock Sam Whitelock said even the results of the recent August Tests — the Wallabies won the first 27-19 and the All Blacks took the second 41-13 — were not relevant in a winner-takes-all final.
“It’s the beauty of this World Cup, everything that’s happened before means very little and it’s all going to come down to 80-plus minutes on Saturday,” he said.
“We’re aware of the history between both sides but it all comes down to this Saturday.” – Agence France-Presse