All Blacks ‘confident’ but not ‘arrogant’ ahead of Bledisloe Cup clash

 Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

New Zealand coach Jason Ryan insists spirts are high within the camp as they prepare to take on Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup clash of the year.

The All Blacks are currently unbeaten in nine games and have claimed successive victories from their opening two Rugby Championship matches.

They firstly overcame Argentina in Mendoza before returning home and producing a dominant display to defeat world champions South Africa.

A victory in Melbourne would retain both the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup, and on form it is difficult to see past another All Blacks triumph.

Striving to improve

“We’ve won two Tests in a row,” Ryan told reporters. “You can’t hide from that. One has been away from home and one has been against the world champions. We’re confident, but we’re not arrogant. We keep our feet on the ground and constantly strive to be better.

“[Mount Smart] was a step forward, but it’s not something we want to get carried away with. We had good momentum and carry and in the clean at the breakdown we were pretty sharp.

“But we still gave away a couple of soft scrum penalties and a soft maul try as well. That’s not where we want to be.

“By no means are we getting comfortable where we’re at. We’ve got to strive to be better.”

Despite the All Blacks heading in the right direction, Ryan knows that Australia will present a very different challenge to the Springboks this weekend.

“We’ve shown a little bit of momentum in parts of that (Springboks) game, and we want to build on that. What we’ve really challenged this group on is each Test is different, so we prepare accordingly,” he said.

“[World Cup decisions] are in our thoughts… we’ve genuinely got competition for spots right across the park. That’s good. What’s not being seen is how hard guys are working and how well they’re competing during the week, which is effectively setting us up for some good performances.”

The Wallabies have endured a difficult few years, winning just 38 per cent of matches under Dave Rennie.

He was subsequently sacked, with Eddie Jones returning to the hotseat, but matters have not improved with the 63-year-old at the helm.

Australia went down to both South Africa and Argentina, leading to questions over the direction they are heading under Jones, but Ryan expects a big challenge on Saturday.

Physical and courageous

“They’re a tough side. They showed a lot of physicality around their forward pack,” he said.

“They’re good over the ball, [Fraser] McReight is pretty good in the tackle, and I would think they’ll be physical in all parts of their game. They’ll be courageous and throw the ball around.

“We were up for last week and we need to be up for this week.”

Ryan is also wary of the last time these teams faced each other in Melbourne as the Wallabies came within a minute of taking the win in 2022 before New Zealand eventually prevailed 39-37.

“We respect them for that. One thing we know about the Aussie mindset is they’ll keep trying and they ain’t going to go away. But we’re not either, and we’ll look forward to that contest,” he added.

READ MORE: Wallabies are ‘massive underdogs’ against ‘red hot’ All Blacks

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