Wallabies, All Blacks set for big clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies, All Blacks set for big clash

By Darren Walton 28/07/2006 06:17:23 PM Comments (0)

After a week of trans-Tasman verbal warfare, the Wallabies and All Blacks declared it high time to get down to the serious business of battling it out for the Bledisloe Cup.

Australia and New Zealand clash at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night in one of the most eagerly-awaited Tests in years following an explosive build-up from both camps.

The Wallabies fired the first shot, accusing the All Blacks of paranoia after the tourists hired security guards to keep spies out of a training session at a Brisbane school.

Wallabies assistant coach Scott Johnson arrived at a press conference the next day in a camouflage outfit and bucket hat with the words "paranoia is curable" on the back of his shirt.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry then branded the Wallabies arrogant after his Australian counterpart John Connolly attacked the All Blacks' controversial new haka - featuring an apparent throat-slitting gesture - as irresponsible.

Connolly had expressed concern that the Kapa O Panga version of the haka sent a murderous message not in keeping with the All Blacks' standing as high-profile role models.

Henry countered that the All Blacks' pre-match challenge, a variation from the traditional Ka Mate haka, was not meant to be offensive and suggested that Connolly mind his own business.

"I'm just making a statement about people poking their nose in where they shouldn't," he said.

"You don't see any All Black team doing that about the Australian rugby side. We're not that arrogant."

The hysteria surrounding the haka, claims of paranoia and arrogance and the claim on New Zealand TV from All Blacks lock Ali Williams that he'd had his drink spiked last month, have overshadowed what both teams consider will be a titanic clash.

"I'm just amazed this great game of rugby is not even discussed," Henry said on the eve of the first Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane in a decade.

"This is a great game of rugby we're going to have. Two very good rugby teams. Tuqiri against Gear ... I could go on and on, the match-ups are superb.

"Two of the top three teams in the world playing at a good stadium. Great ground. Full house. Sold out in 10 minutes, I wonder why that was - I guess the All Blacks are in town.

"The game is going to be marvellous. It deserves some coverage. We just want to play."

As do the Wallabies, with skipper George Gregan, who will surpass Queensland legend John Eales as Australia's most-capped Test captain.

Gregan said the Wallabies were all too aware the Bledisloe Cup was on the line, with his team needing to win to force a series decider in Auckland next month.

"I think it is important to get back to that," he said after his pre-match captain's run.

"It's a really good chance to make sure when we get to Auckland we are playing for a chance to get it.

"It's a chance to put one hand back on the Cup tomorrow night. We are really enthusiastic and look forward to that challenge."

Seeking to end New Zealand's three-year Bledisloe Cup reign, Australia fell behind in the best-of-three series with a 32-12 loss in Christchurch three weeks ago.

Gregan, though, believes Australia was closer to winning that match than the scoreline suggested, with the Wallabies having led until conceding two converted tries while flanker Rocky Elsom was in the sin bin.

"It was one of those games which I thought, even in the last quarter, we believed we could get back down in their half and score some points and be back into the game," he said.

"That's the nature of some these Australia-New Zealand games - you can sometimes be 15 or 12 points behind and one more score (and) you are back in the contest.

Both teams will start at full strength after Henry declared All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock (ankle and calf) ready to go.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news