It took 16 years, but the Wallabies have a chance to win the Bledisloe Cup when they meet the All Blacks at Eden Park come Saturday.
The first game of the series, played in Perth, resulted in a decisive 47 – 26 win for Australia.
It would be inaccurate to say that the All Blacks were disinterested participants in the first game, but it would be okay to speculate that the All Blacks have a greater interest in the World Cup tournament later this year.
New Zealand had little to gain by expending players and energy on a team they have beaten so often that the bruise on Australia’s eastern coast can be seen from Auckland.
The festivities at Eden Park will also find the Black Ferns trying to make it 19 in a row over the Wallaroos. The Ferns won the opener of the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy 47 – 10.
“Anytime you have the All Blacks and Black Ferns both playing in front of a capacity home crowd it is a special occasion,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
NZ Rugby does deserve credit for selling out the ground.
It is safe to say, however, that New Zealand football fans would be loathe in the extreme to see the Wallabies hoist the Bledisloe cup on hallowed Kiwi ground, so despite looking forward to preserving his best players for World Cup 2019 in Japan, Mr. Hansen had better have his employees motivated.
Despite the thrashing handed out by the Wallabies in Perth, the bookies still favour New Zealand by a healthy margin. One quote we saw has it New Zealand $1.14, Australia $5.50.
Tew went further to tout the Saturday matches, but in a World Cup year, the Bledisloe Cup simply does not command the attention it typically receives.
For out part, we would not mind a win by Australia, but we would much prefer a third-game decider, a future we will not experience, because the Bledisloe Cup has been reduced to two matches to accommodate World Cup preparations.