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After a decade of dominance over Australia in the Bledisloe Cup, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been forced to defend the allure of the series.
Speaking ahead of his side’s second clash in as many weeks against the Wallabies, McCaw said there no easy wins, despite Australia failing to win across the Tasman since 2001.
“I just know, speaking to guys who have played for it both here and Wallabies over the years, it means a hell of a lot to them,” McCaw said.
“You let your guard down for one second, it will be swinging around straight away.
“Preparing for these games, it’s the big Test matches you want to get right and play well in.
“I just want to make sure we keep our hands on it for as long as possible.
“The Bledisloe is a big part of when you play for it, it means a lot.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance this week, if we get our performance right, hopefully the outcome will be what we’re after and we get to keep it for another year.
“It’s certainly an important cup for this group.”
Australia will be desperate to hit back after their 47-29 thumping at the hands of the Kiwis in the first clash of their southern hemisphere international program.
Despite the margin of that defeat, McKenzie has stuck solid with the players he selected for Bledisloe I, with Scott Fardy’s promotion to the run-on side for injured blindside flanker Hugh McMeniman the only change the rookie Test coach made in announcing his side on Thursday.
The All Blacks, meanwhile, have been forced to delve deep into their playmaking stocks after injuries to Bledisloe I star Aaron Cruden and his back-up Beauden Barrett forced the pair to join star No.10 Dan Carter on the sidelines.
Coach Steve Hansen has managed to uncover Tom Taylor, whose dad, Warwick, was a World Cup-winning centre for New Zealand, preferred over Colin Slade.
Lock Luke Romano is also out, replaced in the All Blacks pack by Brodie Retallick.