They might have been brought back down to Earth with their heavy defeat in Bledisloe II, but Wallabies young gun Harry Wilson says the All Blacks’ fear factor is gone.
After an impressive and surprising 16-16 draw in Wellington, the Wallabies felt the brunt of the All Blacks at their “spiritual home” last Sunday as Ian Foster’s men raced out of the blocks in the second half to seal a convincing 27-7 win at Eden Park.
But that hasn’t dented the confidence of the Wallabies, according to Wilson, who spent 36 hours in hospital in the lead up to the second Test after an infection in his foot saw it double in size.
Asked whether he thought the All Blacks still had an aura of invincibility about them, Wilson, who beat the All Blacks at under-20s level, emphatically shattered that perception.
“No. They’ve been good over the last 20 years, but times are changing now and all their players are new,” the hard-nose Wallabies back-rower said.
“They’re not the All Blacks of old, they’re a new team so it’s time for us to step up.”
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Wilson’s attitude represents the bullish approach of the next generation of Wallabies.
He was just two years old when the Wallabies last held the Bledisloe Cup and the Queensland forward said that on home soil the All Blacks would face a stern test.
“I’ve never seen Australia or, at least remembered, Australia win the Bledisloe and I know there’s 44 of us, plus every Australian, who wants to see that,” he said.
“There is some real belief in the team. Obviously we drew the first game and then lost the second, but we’ve got two games to win on our soil and we started the path in New Zealand and now they’ve got to come to our country and beat us here, so we’re pretty excited.”
Wilson’s belief is shared by veteran Dane Haylett-Petty, who missed the opening two Tests as he recovered from a leg and hip injury.
“There’s been a switch in this group,” the fullback said.
“I think there’s a lot of belief. We’ve seen in both games resilience, we haven’t laid down, even when under pressure, and we’ve created a lot of opportunities.
“We put out a really good performance in Wellington and then weren’t able to back it up in Auckland, but we know that this group is capable of creating opportunities and we’re going to have to take them if we want to beat one of the best teams in the world.”
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After missing 42 tackles and being bumped off 38 tackles, the Wallabies’ defence has come under fire in the wake of their loss.
But, as Haylett-Petty said, the Wallabies did create opportunities themselves.
The Wallabies blew three genuine try-scoring opportunities in Bledisloe II while they had another two strong attacking raids and the experienced outside back said it would take a little bit of time for combinations to click after the arrival of a brand new coaching team.
"I think it’ll probably take this season,” he said.
“He plays a game with a lot of detail and it’s an attacking style and connections are really key, so I think it’ll take a little while – but that’s no excuse as well.”