ALL BLACKS coach Steve Hansen uses the example of last year’s Rugby World Cup final, when New Zealand went in as hot favourites but were made to sweat for their one-point victory.
His skipper, Richie McCaw, cites something more recent – the series against Ireland – to explain why there can’t be any complacency against a desperate Wallabies side in Auckland on Saturday night.
“We saw as close back as June, where we had a good win the first week and the second week was a totally different ball game,” he said on Friday.
“We have to make sure it’s not like that again.”
New Zealand cruised to a 42-10 result in the opening Test against the Irish tourists but were given a fright seven days later before escaping with a 22-19 win.
Victory over Australia at Eden Park will ensure the All Blacks extend their hold on the Bledisloe Cup for a 10th successive season, with one game still to play.
But a recurring theme coming from the home camp this week has been the need to improve on a mixed display in beating the Wallabies 27-19 in Sydney last weekend.
“We were happy to win,” McCaw said.
“But we have to look at the performance and it was only in patches, and we want to be better than that.”
McCaw, in his 108th Test, will come up against a new opponent in the head-to-head duel at openside flanker.
David Pocock’s knee injury means the Wallabies No.7 jersey has gone to 20-year-old Michael Hooper, who has three caps to his name after making his debut off the bench against Scotland in June.
McCaw said Pocock’s absence wouldn’t alter the All Blacks’ approach in a significant way.
He and Hooper haven’t met at Super Rugby level, but he has been impressed by what he has seen of the youngster, especially in the Brumbies’ victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington in late May.
“He’s very good at the breakdown and he’s quite good around the park as well,” he said.
“From our point of view, it won’t change a lot.”
Meanwhile, McCaw played a straight bat when asked his reaction to the hostile reception recalled Wallabies first five-eighth Quade Cooper gets from New Zealand fans.
“I guess just a bit of history creates that, I don’t know,” McCaw said.