Next weekend’s Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park has taken on a whole new level of significance, according to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen.
New Zealand’s World Cup preparations hit a roadblock yesterday as they were beaten by Australia for the first time in four years to surrender the Rugby Championship crown.
Nehe Milner-Skudder was a rare bright spark for Hansen’s side, the winger scoring a pair of tries on his Test debut.
However, Sekope Kepu, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nic White each touched down for the Wallabies as the combination of Michael Hooper at openside and David Pocock at No.8 saw them win the back-row battle.
Following that 27-19 defeat, the two sides will reconvene on Saturday at Eden Park – the venue of two Test clashes with the British & Irish Lions in 2017 – with the winner getting their hands on the Bledisloe Cup.
“The Bledisloe, outside of the World Cup, is the most important thing to us, so we have to really batten down the hatches now and make sure we get the next week right,” said Hansen.
“There are a lot of things we can improve on. The big thing is we can’t afford to panic.
“We have a plan that we are playing to and this week we have to make sure we get the critical few things right and adjust one or two things we are doing and get better at it.”
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