Why the All Blacks are wary of Brisbane
Having lost their most recent match in Brisbane, the All Blacks concede their record at Suncorp Stadium has been a talking point as they attempt to finish their Bledisloe Cup campaign unbeaten this Saturday.
After an opening draw in Wellington, the New Zealanders have gone from strength to strength – winning 27-7 in the second Test in Auckland before crushing the Wallabies 43-5 in Sydney to secure the prized Trans-Tasman trophy.
The fourth and final clash will take place in Queensland, and while there has been a big turnover in troops in both teams the All Blacks are aware that Suncorp Stadium is the Wallabies’ favourite home ground.
Indeed in the sunshine state, at various venues, the Australians have won 62 per cent of their 93 games.
The Wallabies have lost only one of their last four Tests against New Zealand at Suncorp, with matches there tending to be close affairs.
All six Trans-Tasman clashes at the stadium dating back to 2006 have been decided by five or fewer points.
Like Saturday’s match the teams’ most recent meeting, in 2017, was a dead-rubber but the Wallabies snatched a memorable 23-18 victory to end a run of seven straight defeats.
Australia scored three tries to two, while superboot Reece Hodge nailed two second-half penalties from beyond the halfway line to ice the win.
All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree said New Zealand’s record in Brisbane had been discussed.
“It was brought up the other day in a leaders’ meeting that the All Blacks haven’t got a great record in Brisbane,” Plumtree said.
“But are we using it as a motivating factor? No, not really.
“Our sole purpose right now is just to keep improving as a group and keep setting small challenges for the team.”
New Zealand are planning personnel changes while there are also likely to be some fresh faces in the Wallabies line-up following the demoralising loss in Sydney and injury to lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
But Dave Rennie’s line-up is still likely to have a heavy Reds flavour, which Plumtree felt could work in the home side’s favour.
Of the match-day 23 in Sydney, nine were Reds players, while veterans James Slipper and Rob Simmons spent most of their careers in Queensland.
“There’s a lot of the boys in the Wallabies side who are from Brisbane and they’ve got an opportunity to play in the front of their families on a different stadium,” Plumtree said.
He believed new Wallabies coach Rennie would get a bounce back from his side after their Sydney disappointment.
“They’re hurting a bit, and knowing the coaching group they will be picking their game apart and demanding improvement and I’m sure we’re going to see that.
“We’re expecting a real physical match.”