18 Oct 2014

Wallabies confident of victory

1:52 pm on 18 October 2014

The Wallabies have vowed to raise ailing spirits and restore pride at Suncorp Stadium tonight where they meet the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe cup Test.

Michael Hooper celebrates the Wallabies' win over South Africa in Perth, 2014.

Michael Hooper celebrates the Wallabies' win over South Africa in Perth, 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Never before has a "dead-rubber" had more on the line, with Australia fighting to win back respect, which could keep their besieged mentor at his post, after a tumultuous past fortnight.

Skipper Michael Hooper, without a win in his seven Tests against the All Blacks, said a "special" backs-to-the-wall victory in Brisbane would do plenty to heal his team's recent wounds.

Dragged through the mud by the Kurtley Beale texting scandal - during which business manager Di Patston resigned, Ewen McKenzie's job was placed on the line and Beale's future was put in grave doubt - the code is battling like never before in the professional era.

McKenzie's 15-month tenure could end abruptly with another defeat like the 51-20 Eden Park massacre eight weeks ago, while the unsavoury distractions haven't helped to draw a crowd, with Suncorp - always packed for Bledisloe Tests - to feature up to 8000 empty seats.

On top of that, the Wallabies are hellbent on ensuring popular vice-captain Ashley-Cooper celebrates his 100th Test with just his fifth trans-Tasman victory in 25 Bledisloe matches.

"We have a big point to prove," Hooper said. "We have to show we are fully, 100 per cent committed and love playing in this jersey.

"With the distractions going on, I'm actually really been pleased with the way the guys have reacted this week.

"The guys are starting to lick their lips thinking that, on the weekend, they can be sitting in the changeroom with one of Australia's greatest players celebrating a win and drawing a series."

Hooper was forced to deny speculation of a Waratahs-led divide in the camp, insisting his side were as tight as ever.

They looked it at their Friday captain's run when Ashley-Cooper, the sixth Wallaby to hit three figures, arrived late for the team photograph kitted out in cricket whites, pads, helmet and a bat to salute his cackling teammates.

Despite looking for their first Bledisloe win in three years, Hooper didn't mind saying the world champion All Blacks were under extra pressure due to their last-start loss to South Africa.

New Zealand haven't lost two Tests on the trot since falling to the Springboks and Wallabies (in Brisbane) just before their 2011 World Cup triumph.

Since then, they've lost only two of 44 Tests.

"We've talked about it; they're in unfamiliar territory and that could actually be a positive for us," Hooper said.

But All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw warned their epic 27-25 Johannesburg defeat had strengthened resolve.

"And playing the Wallabies brings out the best in our squad," he said.

McCaw is not that interested in the turmoil in the Wallabies camp, but rather focusing on eradicating the errors in their game.

"When you are an All Black coming off a loss, it hardens your resolve to play well," he said.

"What we didn't get right two weeks ago was we gave them too much ball, turned it over too easily with poor skill execution," he added.

McKenzie does hold a trump up his sleeve with Quade Cooper on the bench, but the Wallabies must be in the game at the hour mark for the returning playmaker to make an impact.

The All Blacks are already assured of retaining the Bledisloe Cup for another year after a 12-12 draw in Sydney and a 51-20 victory in Auckland in back-to-back tests against the Wallabies in August.


.. Played 175: Australia 47, New Zealand 121, Drawn 7

.. In Australia 93: Australia 28, New Zealand 59, Drawn 6

.. In Brisbane 20: Australia 3, New Zealand 14, Drawn 3

.. At Suncorp Stadium 5: Australia 1, New Zealand 3, Drawn 1

.. Last meeting: New Zealand 51 bt Australia 20 in Auckland on August 22

.. Last Brisbane meeting: 18-18 draw in October, 2012

.. Australia last held the Bledisloe Cup in 2002

.. Last split Bledisloe series: 2011 (1-1)

Biggest trans-Tasman wins:

.. Australia 28-7 in Sydney, 1999

New Zealand 43-6 in Wellington, 1996

Highest scores:

.. Australia 35-39 (loss) in Sydney, 2000

.. New Zealand 51-20 in Auckland, 2014