THIS is the Wallabies’ year.
No Australian captain has lifted the Bledisloe Cup since 2002, but Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is convinced current skipper Michael Hooper will do so in 2014.
In Orange for the second leg of the Bush2Bledisloe campaign on Tuesday, McKenzie said even though his squad is scattered early in its preparation, it would be sufficiently prepared to take on the might of the All Blacks on Saturday, August 16.
None of the NSW Waratahs in the Wallabies squad travelled for the opening two legs of the Bush2Bledisloe, in Dubbo on Monday and Orange yesterday, with the turnaround from their Super 15 win last Saturday deemed too short.
Despite training on both days with little more than two thirds of his squad, McKenzie said the tour is still vitally important to Australian rugby.
“It’s all important, you know we don’t get the opportunity to get out here often,” he said.
“It’s the first time I’ve been out provincially with the Wallabies, it’s important to engage where the stakeholders and fan base are.
“The NRC is coming here (Orange) as well, and Dubbo, and the more we can spread this type of thing across Australia the more benefit we will see.”
Crucially for the Waratahs last Saturday, Crusaders and All Blacks star Dan Carter left the field with an injured ankle, and now he is set to miss the opening two games of the Bledisloe series.
It was revealed on Monday Carter has a small fracture in his lower fibula, and will be out for up to four weeks.
“That doesn’t change our mindset,” McKenzie said.
“They have an embarrassment of riches in the five-eighth position, like Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett, and it might even make their selections easier.
“From our point of view we’re worrying about ourselves, we’ll focus on beating whoever they put on the paddock.”