31 Oct 2015

Wallabies not backing down

7:47 pm on 31 October 2015

The Wallabies have vowed to stand toe-to-toe with their fearsome New Zealand opponents in Sunday's Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham.

The Wallabies face the Haka at Eden Park, 2015.

The Wallabies face the Haka at Eden Park, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While conceding the Australians were giving away a weight advantage to the giant All Blacks pack, the Wallabies' coach Michael Cheika said his players would not back away from any physical confrontations.

Asked by reporters what his team were expecting from New Zealand, Cheika replied: "It's pretty much their modus operandi. They know how to play the game physically.

"They've got leg drive and they've got great intent around the way they want to play the game physically."

But Cheika, an old-school player and coach who has always relished tough, physical battles, said he welcomed the challenge of taking the Kiwis on at their own game after spending months preparing his team to absorb any punishment they received.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Photo: Photosport

"I love that style of play as well so we know we want to bring that too. We want to bring physicality to the game as well," he said.

"I know we're probably a little bit smaller but it's all about what you bring technically and what's inside you, what's your drive, why do you want to do it?"

Australia were given a taste of what to expect when they upset New Zealand in August to win the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship.

A week later, the two old rivals played each other for the Bledisloe Cup and the Wallabies were smashed 41-13 by a ruthless New Zealand team that battered the Australians from kickoff.

All Blacks' midfielder Ma'a Nonu scoring a try in the 2015 Bledisloe Cup test match at Eden Park.

All Blacks' midfielder Ma'a Nonu scoring a try in the 2015 Bledisloe Cup test match at Eden Park. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"They always say if you look backwards you're only going to get a sore neck, so what happened before means nothing," Cheika said.

"I've got a lot of belief in my team, we've worked really hard and trained really hard. We know it's going to be extremely physical and we want to be able to last."

Australia's players went through their final training session at Twickenham on Friday and are all chomping at the bit to play.

Openside flanker Michael Hooper, whose clash at the breakdown with New Zealand captain Richie McCaw looms as one of the key factors in determining the outcome, said the players were trying to treat it as just another game but it was impossible to block out the magnitude of what was at stake.

"We've got no illusions about how big it is and we're excited about that," Hooper said.

"There's 31 guys here who would give their left leg to be playing on Saturday and that's been the mentality from the word go. Even the coaches would run out there if they could.

"It's 80 minutes, four sticks, one footy and we're throwing it around and we're going up against a great opposition with a huge opportunity and goal at the end of it."


* Winners in 1991 and 1999. Australia are in the World Cup final for the fourth time having also lost in 2003.

* Australia's track record in Rugby World Cup matches in the northern hemisphere is 22 wins and one defeat. The only team to beat Australia in a RWC match north of the equator was England in the 2007 quarter-finals.

* Australia are the only team with a winning record (two wins, one defeat) against New Zealand at the World Cup. The Tasman rivals have only met in World Cup semi-finals.

* Centre Matt Giteau played in the Wallabies' last World Cup final, against England in 2003 when he came on as a blood replacement.

* Winger Drew Mitchell has scored 14 career World Cup tries. Only Jonah Lomu (New Zealand) and Bryan Habana (South Africa)have recorded more, having both touched down 15 times.


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