New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen expects Australia to be a force in this year’s Rugby Championship, despite their poor Super Rugby form.
The All Blacks travel to take on the Wallabies in Sydney first up on August 20 and are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the competition.
New Zealand enter on the back of a 3-0 whitewash over Wales while Australia lost 3-0 to England, but Hansen thinks they will bounce back.
“It is farcical to think they (Australia) won’t turn up and create a tremendous competition in this Championship,” the coach told the NZ Herald.
“Australia have got four weeks to prepare for the first test, we’ve got a week by the time we get everyone there, so that’s an advantage.”
“They’ve brought some quality men back from overseas and they’ve also got a quality coach coming in from New Zealand by the name of Mick Byrne so that will enhance them as well.”
Byrne’s recent arrival from the All Blacks to his position with the Wallabies has caused plenty of intrigue ahead of the opening game, but Hansen insists he won’t be giving away any secrets about the world champions.
“He’s told me he’s not going to talk about the All Blacks,” he added.
“He’s a good man, I trust his character and wish him all the best and we’ll have a bit of fun when we catch up.”