Wallabies struggle for impact in Chicago
Chicago sports folk are finding it harder to get enthusiastic about the Wallabies playing at Chicago's Soldier Field than they were about the All Blacks a year ago.
Australia are to play the United States at the weekend and while the promotion has been pushing the fact the Australians won the Investec Rugby Championship, and beat the All Blacks, it is proving a hard sell to local fans and Soldier Field will not be at its 61,500 capacity.
While the All Blacks did the full round of promotions in the lead-up to their game last year, with captain Richie McCaw being honoured by professional sports franchises, the Wallabies have been camped at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.
US Rugby boss, and former England halfback, Nigel Melville told The Guardian that the New Zealand game last year had been a one-off.
"We never thought the Australia game would be a sell-out crowd or anything like that, but we need to keep going back to Chicago, because we think it's a great venue," he said.
A full programme was being developed for the national side with Tests being confirmed each year in the June international window until 2019 and there would also be games during the Six Nations next February.
"Having a whole schedule for four years between World Cups will be a massive step forward," Melville said.
The game against Australia was a great opportunity for the Eagles to prepare for what lies ahead at the World Cup.
They are in the same pool as South Africa, Scotland, Samoa and Japan.
"The pool is really interesting: you could win all of your games and you could win none of your games. You could win two, no one knows. It's going to be very open. We've shown we can beat Japan but we know Japan can beat us. It will be about who plays well on the day, and that preparation could be vital.
"I think this [the Australian Test] is a great opportunity for our guys to get ready and to prepare," he said.
"We need to hit the ground running when we get to the World Cup.
"We've played some tier-two games, we've played two teams who are in our pool, so we know what they're about. And we're also playing a tier-one team: we're going to play South Africa, so we might as well play Australia," he said.