All Blacks rebuilding? Don't count on it

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has admitted his side will be weakened by the loss of more than 800 Test caps, but the Wallabies aren’t quite buying it.

“Of course it is, you don't lose players like Carer and McCaw and not be weakened by it. ” Hansen said.

“They've been great All Blacks but we've known for quite some time they were going so we've been planning for that.

“That planning's not just about on field, it's off field and getting the off-field leadership group ready to be able to take over and run without those guys and so far they've done a pretty good job.

Steve Hansen says his side is prepared, despite losing a number of leaders. Photo: GEtty Images“They'll continue to grow and they're not the finished article by any stretch of the imagination but there’s still 800-odd caps in that side.”

Returned Wallabies halfback Will Genia, who has beaten the All Blacks just twice in his career, batted away the idea that the All Blacks were rebuilding.

“I think everyone talks about transition period with them but if you look at the guys that they've got to come in, they've already got a lot of caps to their name,” he said.

“Even when the guys like Richie (McCaw) and Dan (Carter) and Ma'a (Nonu) and those guys were there, those (new) blokes were still playing anyway.  

“I don't really see it as a transition period for them because it's just guys stepping into the role, guys who have done the job for them before.”

Will Genia isn't reading into any Kiwi rebuilding talk. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyWhile the All Blacks have seven players from their starting World Cup final side in their run-on team, the Wallabies have kept 13 of their first 15.

That includes the unorthodox back row combination of Michael Hooper and David Pocock, who helped orchestrate the 27-19 opening Bledisloe win in Sydney last year.

After two clashes with the ‘Pooper’, Hansen said he hoped his team would be able to better combat the duo this time around.

“I'd like to think it is (more familiar) but you've still got to stop it,” he said.

“They're both good over the ball and it's about us making sure that we do well when we carry but we've had a little bit of practice at coping with it, so you're right, we should be better at it.

“Wait and see if we are, though.”

Wallabies team to face the All Blacks

All Blacks team to face the Wallabies.