Sydney win would boost Australian Cup hopes
Australian rugby legend John Eales believes a win for the Wallabies over the All Blacks next week in Sydney would be a significant boost for their World Cup hopes.
The former Wallaby captain, and two-time World Cup winner, said Australia wasn't alone in having a poor record against New Zealand in recent times. They haven't won since 2011.
"New Zealand are not unbeatable, even if they are the dominant force in world rugby at the moment," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"They are ahead of the rest, but several teams within that pack of chasers have either over-turned the All Blacks on rare occasions or come within a whisker of doing so, Ireland for example. Australia have managed two draws. The challenge is to turn those whiskers into more of a regular reality," he said.
Eales in his career featured in 11 Australian Test wins over the All Blacks in 20 appearances.
"The thing about the All Blacks is that they have very few down periods in a game.
"Their highs are very high, but other teams can match that at times.
"But New Zealand give you so few openings and those openings do not last very long, either. Those momentum shifts are minuscule. And you have to take advantage," he said.
While most teams slightly favoured one form of defence or attack, New Zealand were unrelenting in both.
"Everything has a purpose to it. Can they be beaten? Of course they can. But you have to be very good to do it. And this Wallaby side would gain so much from a breakthrough win over New Zealand.
"Success feeds off success," he said.
Eales acknowledged the challenge Australia face getting through their pool, and their set-piece would be tested, especially against England.
"There is no question that the scrum has been a problem for us, but there is also no question that it has not been as bad as people perceive," he said.
It was important to change that perception because weakness could go against sides.
"I have no issue with a World Cup being decided by the achievements of a strong set-piece side, but I do not want it to be decided by a lucky penalty at the scrum," he said.
Eales added that while New Zealand were ahead of the pack, those doing the chasing were capable of winning the event.