It will be anyone but Australia when Ireland soaks up the majority of the ‘neutral’ New Zealand support for their World Cup showdown at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.
Boos greeted the Wallabies, and particularly their ‘public enemy number one’ flyhalf Quade Cooper, for their tournament opener with Italy at Auckland’s North Harbour last Sunday, and Robbie Deans’s team can expect more of the same vitriol this weekend.
Irish hooker Rory Best said his team have been inundated with support from the locals ahead of their Pool C game with the Wallabies.
“Throughout our stay in New Zealand we’ve had a lot of support for this game, not just from the Irish but it seems for whatever reason a lot of Kiwis will be supporting us tomorrow night,” Best said on Friday.
“It’s great, it will be close to a packed house here tomorrow, and you want to play in the big games and the big stage and there’s no bigger stage than at the World Cup and we’re looking forward to it.”
Australia will be returning to the All Black citadel where they haven’t won an international in 25 years.
But former skipper Rocky Elsom said the Wallabies had nothing to fear from their Eden Park jinx.
Australia have not won at their hoodoo ground since 1986 and have lost their last 12 Tests against the All Blacks there. But the laconic Elsom saw no reason to be concerned about Saturday’s game.
“Ireland will have no better record than us over the past 20 years at Eden Park,” he said.
“So you think someone has got to win, so that would be a good start.”
Overall, the Wallabies lead the Irish 20-8 with one game drawn, but 4-0 in their World Cup meetings, although two of those matches were decided by a point.