Bledisloe pain driving Wallabies into opener

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies attack coach Stephen Larkham is one of the only members of the Australian camp that knows what it’s like to win a Bledisloe Cup.

Larkham was a part of a golden era for Australian rugby, one that had a then-record Bledisloe streak broken in 2003.

While he and defence coach Nathan Grey have both touched the cup, the Wallabies have been leaning on the pain of veterans who have lost in their motivation.

Stephen Larkham has tasted Bledisloe glory. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe side’s senior players spoke to the group in the lead up to the opening Bledisloe Test, about the agony of dropping the series.

“We've had some internal chat form some o the senior players about how disappointing it has been over the last couple of years not to win the Bledisloe so each team finds their own motivation,” he said.

“I think for us it's we started a journey last year with the World Cup and we've changed a few things and we're on a new path now.

That Will Genia, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper have all wrangled their ways back to Australia for the series reflects its significance and it was the team's’ oldest heads that communicated that this week.

Those four have felt the pain of losing to New Zealand many times and passed on their desperation to the rest of the group this week, captain Stephen Moore said.

 “I think the importance of the game and this particular rivalry is why you keep turning up every year and wanting to play your part,” he said.

“It's been great to see the guys coming back from overseas and how much it still means to them.

“A few of those guys spoke yesterday and shared some of their experiences and just to see how much it still means to them after playing 100+ Tests and however many games against New Zealand, how much it still means to them, shows how important this rivalry is and we want to keep working hard to put ourselves in a position to do well.”

Stephen Moore wants to win. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyWhile the significance of a win in both Sydney’s Test and the series overall has been articulated, Moore said the leaders were narrowing the focus to the 80 minutes ahead of them in Saturday’s opener.

“I don’t really want to talk too much about the outcomes before the fact,” he said.

“We know there's a hell of a lot of work to go into anything and tomorrow is the first game, the first opportunity for us so we haven't thought beyond that.”

While the words have been flying between the camps all week, especially from the mouths of coaches Michael Cheika and Steve Hansen, Moore said the dialogue would be overshadowed at 8pm Saturday.

Asked whether the Wallabies wanted to create a fortress at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, a ground where New Zealand has not won since 2013, Moore said labels were irrelevant.

I think you can get caught up talking about that type of stuff but everything that's said is irrelevant when you go out and play,” he said.

“We just want to go out and play well, we know we're at home and we enjoy playing here and the crowd here is always great but ultimately we have to go out there and play as well as we can to get a result.

“That stuff is neither here nor there I suppose.”