One of the greatest rivalries in world rugby will resume on the grandest stage on Sunday as New Zealand look to take one giant step to banishing their World Cup demons on home soil against Australia.
The All Blacks have the perfect opportunity to end their World Cup jinx at the 6th attempt which against the team which denied them claiming the Tri Nations title weeks before.
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The Wallabies claimed just their second Tri Nations title in ten years as they defeated a New Zealand side that were heavy favourites, and they’ll be hoping to upset the odds once more this weekend.
Graham Henry’s side have earned themselves a reputation as big game bottlers having gone in to numerous World Cup’s as the favourite only to fall down before they could lay their hands on the Webb-Ellis trophy since their single triumph back in 1987.
The two fierce rivals have met twice at the World Cup, and both times the Wallabies have emerged victorious in 1991 and 2003.
George Gregan rubbed salt into the wounds of the All Blacks when they met in the 2003 semi-finals, chanting “four more years” at the stricken All Blacks as another agonising defeat loomed, and no doubt the men left over from that game will be desperate for revenge.
They will have to do it without their linchpin Dan Carter who will miss the remainder of the tournament with a groin injury, while his replacement Colin Slade went down with a similar complaint during their quarter final win over Argentina. The absence of Mils Muliaina who recently reached the landmark of 100 caps is a real blow to the All Blacks, but they will be able to call upon one of the stars of the tournament, Israel Dagg to take his place at full-back.
Captain Richie McCaw is expected to take his place in the starting line-up despite his continued struggle with injury.
Australia will have to overcome the disadvantage of playing in front of a passionate home crowd at Eden Park – a stadium where they haven’t tasted victory since 1986.