Wallabies could have easily won Bledisloe in 2017, say "lucky" All Blacks

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The All Blacks were ‘lucky’ to get away with their 15th-straight Bledisloe Series win in 2017 and they are re-setting the clock ahead of Saturday’s 2018 opener.

After a dominant opening 54-34 Test win in Sydney last year, New Zealand stole a last-gasp win in Dunedin to secure the trophy before going down in the third Test in Brisbane.

Veteran fullback Ben Smith admitted they were fortunate to escape with the trophy last year and they wouldn’t be complacent against a hungry Wallabies side.

“They beat us in Brisbane, I think we were probably lucky to get away with a win down in Dunedin in the second Test, so that could've easily gone either way," he said.

“We know the threats they've got across the park and we're aware of what kind of team we're up against come Saturday - it's going to be a good Aussie team and for us, we're looking forward to that challenge.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been going one step further than Smith’s praise, quick to give Australia the favourites tag last week and reiterated his view when he touched down in Sydney.

"They won the last one, they have to be (favourites) don't they?” he said on his arrival.

Much of the conversation around Hansen’s comments has focused on its intended effect on the Wallabies, but Smith said the chat may not have been the mental warfare it’s been made.

“I'm not sure what Steve was meaning by that but I think for us it's about recapturing the Bledisloe and being excited by the challenge,” he said.

“He was probably just (creating) awareness of how good this Australian team is and as players we know that and we're excited by that challenge.”

Australia has had chances to win back the Bledisloe in the past 15 years, drawing the then two-Test series in 2004 and 2007, but in the stalemates the trophy automatically returned to the Kiwis.

Flanker Sam Cane said there was no complacency in the New Zealand camp, with the clock resetting each year in the three-Test format.

“You can talk like that (about the streak) but it's not really a run each year. It resets and starts again because it's effectively a three-match series,” he said.

“We've got the first two in the first two weeks and it's anyone’s up for grabs, we've got equal chance of taking it.

“It's particularly tough this first Test being here in Australia’s home ground, so it’s a big challenge.”

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.