All Blacks brace for Wallabies.


NZPA     26 Jun 2007     Fotopress

The All Blacks end their long journey in Melbourne tonight (NZT) via Johannesburg and Sydney, ahead of their first trans-Tasman Test of 2007 for the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday night.

The respective build-ups told a story in the All Blacks' 26-21 victory in Durban yesterday.

They were relatively fresh after a soft win over Canada while the Boks played their fifth Test in five weeks and wilted in the final quarter after a torrid previous weekend against the Wallabies.

"We'll be tired going to Melbourne and we'll have to adjust, really focus on improving the performance from Durban," Henry said.

"You can't do anything about that challenge, you can't extend the week to 10 days. It's a matter of trying to do it right."

One key arrival in Melbourne tonight will be lock Chris Jack, who will return to the All Blacks starting line-up after staying home for the birth of his daughter, just over a week ago.

He will likely come in for Greg Rawlinson.

Assistant coach Steve Hansen was coy on how many changes would be made.

Medical staff would assess any injuries when the team touch down in Melbourne.

Widespread changes are unlikely, with the All Blacks getting a rest the following weekend.

Hooker Keven Mealamu, who lifted the All Blacks from the bench in the second half, could start for Anton Oliver while halfback Piri Weepu may be given his chance, although Byron Kelleher also impressed against the Boks.

The Wallabies await in Melbourne after a relaxing weekend where they took in the Durban Test on television.

They gave the Springboks a tough contest on June 17, losing 19-22 thanks to two late Francois Steyn dropped goals.

"I was very impressed with the Wallabies and they may have been unlucky to lose. They played with huge character and defended superbly. They'll be better for that game," Henry said.

"They'll improve probably 25 percent in Melbourne. They'll play more with the ball and try to use their backs wider.

"They're a very strong side. A lot of people underestimated them. They know they have to win to survive next week. It's going to be another biggie."