It’s not quite David and Goliath proportions but the Wallabies have vowed to stand toe-to-toe with their fearsome New Zealand opponents in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham.
While conceding the Australians were giving away a weight advantage to the giant All Blacks pack, the Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika said his players would not back away from any physical confrontations.
Asked by reporters what his team were expecting from New Zealand, Cheika replied: “It’s pretty much their modus operandi. They know how to play the game physically.
“They’ve got leg drive and they’ve got great intent around the way they want to play the game physically.”
But Cheika, an old-school player and coach who has always relished tough, physical battles, said he welcomed the challenge of taking the Kiwis on at their own game after spending months preparing his team to absorb any punishment they received.
“I love that style of play as well so we know we want to bring that too. We want to bring physicality to the game as well,” he said.
“I know we’re probably a little bit smaller but it’s all about what you bring technically and what’s inside you, what’s your drive, why do you want to do it?”
Australia were given a taste of what to expect when they upset New Zealand in August to win the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.
A week later, the two old rivals played each other for the Bledisloe Cup and the Wallabies were smashed 41-13 by a ruthless New Zealand team that battered the Australians from kickoff.
“They always say if you look backwards you’re only going to get a sore neck, so what happened before means nothing,” Cheika said.
“I’ve got a lot of belief in my team, we’ve worked really hard and trained really hard. We know it’s going to be extremely physical and we want to be able to last.”
Australia’s players went through their final training session at Twickenham on Friday and are all chomping at the bit to play.
Openside flanker Michael Hooper, whose clash at the breakdown with New Zealand captain Richie McCaw looms as one of the key factors in determining the outcome, said the players were trying to treat it as just another game but it was impossible to block out the magnitude of what was at stake. – [Agencies]