Wallabies bringing A-game to Eden Park

Ewen McKenzie talks to his players at Eden Park on Friday. The Wallabies coach is backing his players to lift their game. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Ewen McKenzie talks to his players at Eden Park on Friday. The Wallabies coach is backing his players to lift their game. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY UNION

After 14 Auckland failures in 28 years, trips to Eden Park have become like Groundhog Day for the Wallabies.

But coach Ewen McKenzie insists there's a completely different vibe as his team strive to end a drought and keep the Bledisloe series alive this weekend.

McKenzie brought his squad over a day later and booked them into a different hotel - not the Crowne Plaza where they've stayed since the early 1990s.

"It doesn't feel like deja vu which it has been for 20 years," he said. "This has been a terrific environment coming in here.

"It just feels like a completely different visit to Auckland. We don't want to be going to Eden Park feeling like it's deja vu, do we?"

It may only be a change of digs but McKenzie is a master at thinking outside the square to challenge his team's mindset, and lift their confidence.

"When you play a lot of football, the mental part of the game is significant," he said.

"Everything that goes on during the week is relevant. It doesn't matter whether it's mind games in the newspaper - it's all relevant."

Those mind games have also had a working over with rival coach Steve Hansen saying the All Blacks can improve "10 or 12 notches" from last week, while doubting how much more the Wallabies could lift.

McKenzie said the unchanged Wallabies just needed to get their basics right - like drawing a man properly like Nathan Charles and Israel Folau failed to do when given try-scoring opportunities - to play better.

"We know we can improve a lot on last week, so we've been focusing on that," he said.

"We know what we are capable of and we know we were off the pace at key moments. We expect to do better this week.

"We want [New Zealand] to bring their A-game because we are going to bring ours."

Helping matters is forecast sunshine, lifting hopes of a classic Test match spectacle after the dour draw in the Sydney wet.

Australia tried their best to play running rugby in the difficult conditions and will again attack the All Blacks with ball in hand.

The hosts also want to do the same, with Cory Jane especially hoping to test makeshift wingers Rob Horne and Pat McCabe.

"We didn't take too much out of last week because it was a horrible game but, this week, we will see how good the two teams are," Jane said.

"I would love to get some ball." AAP

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop