WELLINGTON: Australia will be a “different beast” to the side that suffered back-to-back thrashings by the All Blacks in August when they line up for another clash at Eden Park on Saturday, according to flanker Jerome Kaino.
The Wallabies were destroyed by the All Blacks in the opening two matches of the Rugby Championship but found some form in winning three of their last four games in the tournament against South Africa and Argentina.
The All Blacks have not lost to Australia at Eden Park in 30 years and are currently riding a 17-match winning streak, a record for Tier One nations shared with South Africa (1997-98).
But Kaino is mindful of the Wallabies’ history of bursting bubbles.
He was a member of the team that lost 26-24 to Australia in Hong Kong in 2010, which ended a 15-match winning streak.
The 33-year-old was also a part of the 12-12 draw in Sydney which snapped their 17-match streak in 2014.
“They do rise to the challenges, and this is one of them,” Kaino told local media at training on Tuesday.
“We’ve spoken about that they will be better and they will rise to the occasion.
“We know they’re not going to lie down. There’s nothing more they’d like than to spoil our party.
“Australia will be a different beast this time round, a lot better than when we played them last in Wellington.”
Humiliated 42-8 in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, a more abrasive Australia turned up at Wellington but were still trounced 29-9.
The visitors are likely to be reinforced by backrower and breakdown enforcer David Pocock, who has been sidelined for over a month with a broken hand.
“They’ve got more competitive at the breakdown, and if they have David Pocock back that will just add more steel to what they already had,” said Kaino.
“They’ve got a lot stronger.
“But we’re a lot better as well. What we’ve learned is how we prepare during the week. Although a lot will be said in the media about how we’ll easily beat them, it’s important we don’t believe that.”
The All Blacks will be without Aaron Smith for another week after the scrumhalf voluntarily stood down for the match on Monday.
Smith was disciplined after revelations he had a tryst with a woman in a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport last month.
Waikato Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu has been drafted in as cover but TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow are expected to be named as the halfbacks in the matchday 23.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)