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Wallabies out to avoid ‘world of hurt’ against All Blacks

Melbourne (AFP) – Captain James Slipper warned his Australia side that they face “a world of hurt” if they linger on defeat to South Africa and underestimate the stuttering All Blacks on Thursday.

The Wallabies and All Blacks have both lacked consistency this season but it will be New Zealand who go into their Rugby Championship clash in Melbourne on a high.

After four defeats in the previous six Tests, they thumped Argentina 53-3 in Hamilton to ease some of the pressure on head coach Ian Foster.

In contrast, Slipper’s side crashed 24-8 to world champions South Africa in Sydney, a defeat he said Wednesday still hurt.

“Two weeks ago was very hard for us against South Africa. We have reviewed it and had honest chats,” said the 121-Test veteran, who continues to stand in as skipper with Michael Hooper on mental health leave.

“I said after the game that we just needed to be better and we have found ways to do that in training and in our reviews.

“One thing in rugby is you have to dust off because around the corner are the All Blacks and if you’re still thinking about South Africa come tomorrow, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.

“For us, we have to move forward and make sure we perform tomorrow.”

With just one point separating all four teams on the ladder, the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship is one of the tightest in recent memory with Thursday’s clash crucial to both teams’ title hopes.

Also in play is the Bledisloe Cup, which New Zealand has held since 2003.

To change that, Australia must win at a sold-out Docklands Stadium before repeating the feat at Eden Park in Auckland nine days later.

Asked if this could be their best chance in years to break the drought given New Zealand’s inconsistency, Slipper said: “I’ve heard that commentary a fair bit.

“But history tells us they’re a pretty hard team to beat.

“Historically, they’ve had the wood on us for 20 years so us as a playing group, we understand what’s coming and it’s going to be a hard task to win the Bledisloe and it starts tomorrow here.”

Like the Wallabies, the usually dominant All Blacks have failed to string wins together this year, suffering two defeats to Ireland and one each to South Africa and Argentina, which Slipper admitted had surprised him.

“Yes, but they’re a good team, a big rugby nation and there’s a lot of pressure on their outcome,” he said.

“They’re a team that has a whole country behind them who wants to see them win.”

© 2022 AFP

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