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All Blacks arrive in Australia

NZPA     26 Jun 2007    

"You don't scare us -- Wallabies can bust All Black loss sequence," screamed the Daily Telegraph newspaper's lead rugby headline.

The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks in their past five matches spread over three seasons but are taking inspiration from the last time the sides met at the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In 1998 the Wallabies toppled the All Blacks 24-16 to end a run of seven consecutive losses to their trans-Tasman rivals.

"There's belief in this team that we can win," Wallabies coach John Connolly told the Daily Telegraph.

" ... I've said all along that when we get our best team on the field we are competitive with anyone."

Connolly also opened the mind games by questioning the tactics of the All Blacks' dominant loose forward trio of Richie McCaw, Jerry Collins and Rodney So'oialo, who were a huge presence in the 26-21 win over the Springboks in Durban yesterday.

"Their back row was offside regularly," Connolly told The Australian.

"There are so many moving parts to the scrum when the All Blacks are dominating that it's difficult to watch all of them. But they were clearly offside a number of times on South Africa's ball."

The All Blacks' scrum demolished the Springboks in Durban and will clearly target the Wallabies, who competed well in that area in a 19-22 loss to South Africa in Cape Town.

Forwards coach Steve Hansen labelled the scrum as their key weapon in turning around South Africa's early momentum in Durban.

"The scrum definitely had the upper hand and it was probably the turning point in the game. The guys got a lot of energy from the scrum going forward," Hansen said.

Lock Chris Jack is set to join the side in Melbourne after missing the Durban Test to be at the birth of his daughter.

He will likely replace Greg Rawlinson but there should be minimal other changes.

There are no major injury concerns but medical staff are to reassess the players on arrival in Melbourne.

Hansen said the next two days would be very quiet on the training field as the team nursed bumps and bruises and recovered from nearly 15 hours of flying.

"We'd be stupid to get here and leave everything on the training track. We need to have a full tank come Saturday. We'll train smart early in the week there won't be a lot of running around.

"It's going to be a tough challenge but this team needs challenges that are tough to keep growing. We'll look forward to it. Australia are a great competitor of New Zealand's and the Bledisloe Cup's on the line."

The Wallabies have taken 32 players to Melbourne, including fullback Chris Latham, although he is not expected to return from injury until the Test against New Zealand in Auckland on July 21.

Other additions to Connolly's squad are first five-eighth Berrick Barnes, centre Ryan Cross and loose forward Hugh McMeniman.

Like the All Blacks, the Wallabies are to name their team on Wednesday.