New Zealand skipper plays minds games after lop-sided victory in Rugby Championship.
The facts might suggest otherwise but skipper Richie McCaw says he does not believe the All Blacks have a mental stranglehold over the Wallabies after their latest Test romp.
The World Cup champions undermined Australia’s pre-match optimism under new coach Ewen McKenzie with a six-try rout in a 47-29 win in Saturday’s Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.
It was the Kiwis’ 15th win in their last 18 encounters with the Wallabies.
McKenzie had spoken about a fresh approach with new players unburdened by the scars of past defeats.
But the defeat was yet more proof of the wide gap between the teams, even though Australia went into the game ranked third in the world, not too far behind the number one-ranked All Blacks.
McCaw, who lasted for 70 minutes even though he has played little rugby this year due to a Super Rugby sabbatical, was diplomatic when asked if the All Blacks had it over the Wallabies.
“From my point of view and the team’s point of view, we don’t look at it like that because there is very little between these teams and if you don’t get the prep right and you don’t get up and put your performance out there, you’ll come second,” McCaw said after Saturday’s match.
“If you start thinking you are better than you are, you’ll tip up. I think it’s the greatest challenge in sport to back up performance after performance.
“It’s easy when you have a bad one or come second to get that motivation, it’s being able to do that when you have had a win that’s important.”
Victorious coach Steve Hansen had a playful jibe at his counterpart McKenzie’s dilemma of who to play at fly-half between Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper.
Toomua was steady on his international debut, making way for Cooper on the hour.
Asked who McKenzie would pick for next weekend’s return Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington, Hansen said: “At the end of the week Ewen’s got to pick the team and you better ask him. He may not know, but ask him anyway.”
He continued: “I don’t pick the Australian teams. I think they’re both good players, but I’m just happy that I’ve got Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett for that matter.”
In reference to Cooper’s New Zealand heritage, Hansen added: “All five of those people are very good rugby players, and four of them are New Zealanders… and actually I’m not sure where Toomua was born either, it might be all five.”
According to the Wallabies’ media guide, Toomua was born in Melbourne.
Hansen said he believes the All Blacks have “more luck” going for them at the moment than the Wallabies.
“I’ve always thought Australian rugby was good, strong. Hence why they’re two or three in the world, they tend to rotate a bit with the South Africans and ourselves,” he said.
“It’s just at the moment we seem to have more luck against them than they have against us.
“But I think they’ve got the nucleus of a very good side, yeah, I think they’ve had the nucleus of a good side for a long time.”
The All Blacks can wrap up the Bledisloe Cup for a 11th straight year with victory in Wellington next week. The third game of the series is in Dunedin on October 19.