Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones has played down the supposed difference in quality between his side and the All Blacks ahead of their Bledisloe Cup opener.
Incredibly Jones was the last boss of Australia to hold the coveted trophy as they beat the All Blacks in Sydney to secure a 1-1 draw to retain the silverware in 2002.
Since then, it’s been a sea of black in the history books as New Zealand have dominated the fixture for the last 21 years, making the Cup very much their own.
Tasman doesn’t create supermen
“We’ve got plenty of talent in Australia with plenty of good players; there’s not something magical between Australia and New Zealand,” the coach told AAP.
“The Tasman Sea – it doesn’t create supermen on one side, and on the other side there’s people who are going to get beaten.”
Jones was speaking in Melbourne as the Wallabies look to promote the July 29 match at the MCG, a venue the Wallabies hold a 2-1 lead over the All Blacks.
That’s something that the former England head coach is keen to lean on as he looks to get his tenure off to a solid start in this season’s Rugby Championship.
“If you look at the record of Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, we’ve got a two-one record against the All Blacks, which is the only place in the world we’ve got this record,” he said, with the All Blacks their third game of the campaign as the Wallabies begin away to South Africa before hosting Argentina.
“It’s quite a fitting time to come back here – we haven’t won a cup for 22 years, we’re looking forward to playing in front of the huge crowd.
“Victorians want to have the World Cup final (in 2027), so it’s a great opportunity for them to dress rehearse here.”
Wants a big crown in Melbourne
Jones is eager to fill the famous MCG ground for the Bledisloe Cup clash and believes playing in front of a packed house will help his team down the line.
“It’s a great opportunity to play under pressure,” he stated. “Players live for these sort of games where you’re under the most pressure, big crowds, and you’ve got to play good rugby.”
That ability to make good decisions under pressure cost the Wallabies last year in Melbourne when Bernard Foley was timed out kicking a penalty to touch.
That handed the All Blacks one final chance to snatch the win, which they did, and Jones knows it’s the fine margins his team must iron out to achieve success.
“They played very well, had the run of the game and then the referee makes the decision at the end of the game, and you get beaten,” said the head coach.
“You can’t get frustrated by those things – the game gives you what it gives you, and then you’ve got to be able to cope.
“Our job is to create a team that can cope with any situation – good or bad refereeing, drunk crowd, big crowds – doesn’t matter what happens, we’ve got to be able to cope with it.”