Former New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens is tipping Australia to be “an even bigger threat” to the All Blacks when they meet in Auckland.
Former New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens is tipping Australia to be “an even bigger threat” to the All Blacks when they face off in Auckland.
With flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma'a Nonu expected to miss the game, Mehrtens believes the Wallabies could get the job done this week.
They enter after a 12-12 draw in Sydney and while the Wallabies have not won at Eden Park since 1986, Mehrtens stressed that won't be an issue.
“Despite a lot of talk about the All Black response at Eden Park, I see the Wallabies as an even bigger threat this week as they eye a great chance to snap a second win streak in as many weeks,” he told Fairfax Media.
Mehrtens, who played 70 Tests for the All Blacks and helped guide Australia's Waratahs to the Super Rugby title as kicking coach this year, said the Wallabies rediscovered how to be gritty and tough in Sydney, particularly in defence.
He said they were brimming with confidence as they chase a win in Auckland that would keep alive their dream of a first Bledisloe Cup series win since 2002.
“That they were so disappointed about the draw is also a good sign,” he said. “That shows they're not willing to settle. They want that All Black scalp.”
New Zealand are likely to be without seasoned campaigners Nonu and Kaino after both picked up niggling injuries to their shoulder and elbow respectively during the Sydney Test.
Neither participated at training on Tuesday and assistant coach Ian Foster said both appeared “highly unlikely” to play.
“We'll know more tomorrow but the signs are looking that they won't be playing on Saturday,” he told reporters.