The Wallabies and All Blacks renew rivalries in the Bledisloe Cup at Optus Stadium in Perth on Saturday night.
The game is the final round of the 2019 Rugby Championship with both nations still hoping to lift the title.
Victory in this game is needed – most likely with a bonus point – to turn the pressure of South Africa ahead of their game in Argentina. But there is also Bledisloe Cup bragging rights at stake too.
History shows that the winner of the Rugby Championship has no correlation with winning the World Cup. But while the All Blacks and fans will dismiss the importance of the Rugby Championship with eyes on a bigger prize later this year, the value of the Bledisloe Cup remains unquestioned.
Australia has not touched the trophy since 2002, a mark that the All Blacks remain incredibly determined to protect, so expect a strong New Zealand assault this weekend.
The All Blacks split squads for their Argentina and South Africa tests, resulting in underdone performances by New Zealand standards, including a last minute draw on their home turf against South Africa.
But now the boys are back together, the squad numbers have been trimmed, and the road to the World Cup is becoming straighter.
Australia haven’t inspired much so far, drubbed by South Africa on the road, before holding out for a 16-10 win over Argentina at home.
Their forwards looked up to the task against the Pumas, but the New Zealand pack is a different beast and while Brodie Retallick is irreplaceable, the All Blacks pack is strong enough that they can absorb the loss.
The Wallabies have a number of diverse attacking threats, if they can put the pieces together, but so far they have struggled to do so. That will need to change to keep pace with the New Zealand backline.
In every team there is competition for World Cup spots at this point, but the All Blacks have this rivalry at such high level with the team trying to find ways to fit Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga together, and fitting Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Kieran Read together.
These are world level players embroiled in positional battles that will only further drive their performance, especially after not securing the win in their last showing.
Prediction: All Blacks -13 ($1.90 TopBetta)