By Lee Stace
THE WALLABIES believe the pressure is on the All Blacks heading into Saturday night’s test in Sydney, but who are they kidding?
If anything, it is those 22 players kitted out in an attire of gold and green that need to produce a big – and preferably winning – effort under the night sky at ANZ Stadium, because this chapter of their international season is riding on it.
As your eyes prepare to gobble up every crunching tackle of this trans-Tasman test, ask yourself the following questions: which team has gone 10 years without having its named engraved on the Bledisloe Cup? The Wallabies.
Which team has only won three of its last 14 clashes with its cousins from across the creek? The Wallabies.
Which team needs victory in this game to ensure it has a realistic chance of a) getting its hands on the Bledisloe, and b) challenging for the overall Rugby Championship title? Yes, you guessed it, the Wallabies.
While there is pressure on the All Blacks – heightened by the fact they currently hold in their mitts a little gold cup which is the symbol of global supremacy – to get their campaign off to a good start, a loss will not exactly be the end of the world for the Men in Black.
For Australia, though, it will.
Get beaten up in Sydney and the side may as well abandon any hope of reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup, as the next game of the three-match series is at its hoodoo ground, Eden Park. Need you be reminded that the Wallabies have not supped upon the sweet juice of success there (against the All Blacks, at least) since 1986.
Get beaten up in Sydney and, as expected, lose in Auckland the following week and the Robbie Deans-coached team will be 0-2 in the Rugby Championship. The pressure will then be on it to win its remaining games and hope the All Blacks suffer a couple of banana skin moments along the way against the Springboks and Argentina.
Victory is important for the All Blacks, but the Wallabies must win this game.
Deep down the players know their Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship aspirations hinge on it.
No pressure, lads.
We run the rule over the dead-rubber test between the All Blacks and France in New Plymouth on Saturday night.
Which team will win the test series between the Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions?
The All Blacks must do the right thing and play a test against Samoa in Apia.