Bledisloe Cup: Wallaby scrumhalf's warning to All Blacks
SPOTLIGHT: Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White has issued a warning to the All Blacks a week out from their opening Bledisloe Cup clash of the year at Eden Park next Saturday.
The Wallabies arrived in Auckland ahead of the fixture on Friday, and White says there’s a different feel within the Australian camp following their series triumph over France earlier this month.
In defeating France, the Wallabies, featuring numerous youthful or inexperienced players, clinched their first series win on home soil since they toppled Les Bleus in 2014.
White, who sat out the series due to a knee injury, said that experience has been crucial for the squad’s confidence and experience, which he believes has put his side in good stead ahead of the upcoming Bledisloe Cup series.
“It was tough. A couple close games. I’m not sure how guys do it, especially coaches,” White said of watching the series victory from the sidelines.
“Heart-in-mouth stuff there, but, like I said, coming off the back of a good series win, great confidence, guys getting a lot of game time, experience, and that’s going to be valuable going over to New Zealand.
“We’re going to the cauldron of Eden Park and it’s going to be a step-up again, so, like I said, it’s coming off some good experience there and it feels like this time’s a little bit different.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) July 29, 2021
Compare Australia’s lead-up to this year’s Bledisloe Cup series to last year, and it’s understandable to see why White and his Wallabies teammates appear more confident.
With COVID-19 ravaging the international rugby landscape, Australia’s first four Tests of the year were against the All Blacks.
Although they managed a draw and a tough win – albeit against an undermanned All Blacks side – in the first and last games of that four-match stretch, Dave Rennie’s men were well-beaten in the middle two matches as their Bledisloe Cup drought extended.
However, with the French series victory now under their belt, White believes the Wallabies are in a better position than they were a year ago to win their first Bledisloe Cup series since 2002.
“That French team is a bloody good team, and that last game especially, going a man down, it’s a lot of pressure there to win a series on home soil,” he said.
“Guys, I thought, showed a lot of ticker there, and I think it’s only going to hold us in good stead. Sometimes we get the ABs first game of the Test season, it was good to have someone else to warm into these games.
“As I said, we’re going to be in a place to come over here and give it a good shake.”
Whether White will be available for the first Test next week remains to be seen, although he has recovered enough to return to training.
“I’m still kind of rehab running at the moment, but I’m hoping to get over in New Zealand now with a fair bit of time up my sleeve and should be able to train with the team.”
By Alex McLeod, @RugbyPass