Friends since birth, the Sio and Alaalatoa "family" enter Bledisloe battle

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

They've known each other since they were wearing nappies and on Saturday, Scott Sio and Alan Alaalatoa must call upon every ounce of familiarity to stop the rot at scrum time.

The Brumbies pair have been named either side of Tatafu Polota-Nau in a revamped Wallabies front row after the Tom Robertson, Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu scrum capitulated in the Sydney Bledisloe.

It's just the second time the pair have started together in a Test and it remains a feat which boggles the mind considering they have been training side by side in the western suburbs of Sydney since they were children.

"We were friends from the get-go," Sio said.

"We attended each other's first birthday and we grew up in Sydney together.

"Over the years we started at Wests juniors together and myself and Allan - our paths kept together - and my brother and (Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa) went their separate ways.

"We have always kept in contact and I've been very lucky to have Allan down there at the Brumbies with me

"He's someone I grew up with and he just kept helping me along the way.

"Hopefully there is more to come for us."

Packing down alongside each other will always feature as a special moment in their careers but this Saturday's Eden Park showdown carries even more significance for Sio, who laughed about the extra pressure his father heaped on the situation at hand.

"I'm pretty lucky - my parents are coming over," he said.

"It was my mum's birthday yesterday so dad is putting the heat on me - saying that I need to win as her birthday present - it doesn't get any bigger than that for me.

"I'm pretty excited.

"Family means everything to me so to have him here at what will be a packed Eden Park will be special and it's something I will keep drawing on while I'm out there."The Wallabies have used Waiheke Island as their training base for the second Bledisloe. Photo: WalmsleyChanging the perception of All Blacks dominance at scrum time is top priority and that all starts with setting a platform from which the Australian backs can prosper.

"Everyone knows how big the step up is from Super Rugby to Test level and I hope Banksy is going to get enough time to find that out on the weekend," he said.

"We just have to be strong in our core roles.

"We always elude to to that but it's just about making sure we provide good front foot ball at scrum and lineout and mauls as well.

"We need to keep reminding ourselves the role we play in the team first and foremost and to then build off confidence."

Following Sio's orders will put the Wallabies in good stead to shock the world and keep their faint Bledisloe hopes alive - a point noted by the veteran loosehead.

"We want to be able to call on everyone at some point during The (Rugby) Championship i so that if things do happen down the track, it's about having that trust in everyone to be able to step up in each position.

"Those guys have been given an opportunity this week.

"As Banksy alluded to before, what an opportunity to try to beat the best team in the world in the hardest place to win in Eden Park."

The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, 7:35pm local, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, radio and Macquarie Sports radio.