Wallabies embrace Eden Park challenge

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies might be forgiven for holding some trepidation ahead of a trip to Eden Park, as they attempt to end a 30-year winless streak, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was quick to dispel that thought on Monday.

When inevitably asked about the drought, Cheika said his side was ready to take the challenge with two hands.

“It's a great opportunity and it's going to be a tough environment but but that’s where you want to be,” he said.

“If you don’t want to be there, playing those games, where do you want to be in footy?

“It's no good to have it all comfortable and rosy.

Stephen Moore is ready to embrace the Eden park hoodoo. Photo: Getty Images“It'll certainly be tough there but I'm so looking forward to getting over there and getting into it, it'll be great.”

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, who has been playing longer minutes in the absence of backup hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau in recent weeks, said the formula to change a disappointing record against New Zealand this season was simple.

“This is what you play for, these type of games, these opportunities to go there and play the best teams,” he said.

“In terms of our game, I think we just need to go there and execute our game plan, which we didn't do last time we went over there.

“That's the challenge, is to go over there under pressure and do what you say you're going to do and that's how we'll train this week.”

Michael Cheika ahead of the Eden Park Test in 2015. Photo; Getty ImagesCheika said he felt the side had progressed since their 29-9 Wellington defeat at the hands of New Zealand - victory number 13 in a 17-Test run for the All Blacks.

Reticent to sound as if he were leaning on inexperience as mitigation for a mixed 2016 record, Cheika called for patience with a side that has seen 11 debutants through its doors this season.

“I know that no one wants to hear it and everyone thinks it's an excuse when a coach puts it out there but they (combinations) take time, they take time to build.

“Yes, we want to win every game along the way as well so...yeah, it’s tough but going through those tough times is good for you as well.

“To build consistency of high level play you need to work at it.

Eden Park has been a painful place for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images“It's not just going to come because you snap your fingers. Yeah, you'll take a few hits along the way but it’s still a pretty good place to be.”

Many of the high-profile additions to New Zealand’s team this year had already amassed caps well into double digits and it’s a strategy Cheika said the Wallabies needed to employ.

“They've planned well from back in the day and they've got themselves in a situation where their depth is growing and we're on a strategy to grow our depth as well,’ he said.

“It won't be identical, obviously, because we've got different ways of doing things but that's what we're investing in now and we're planning on that bearing fruit for us further down the track."

The Wallabies head to Auckland on Thursday ahead of Saturday's third Bledisloe, kicking off at 5:35pm AEDT, following the Wallaroos-Black Ferns clash at 2:30pm AEDT.