Bledisloe Cup war of words erupts
IT'S been 17 years since Australia last won the Bledisloe Cup and if the war of words is anything to go by, the Wallabies might finally be in with a shot.
After years of mind games where Australia has been dominated by the All Blacks, the green and gold may have finally bought some real estate in the Kiwis' minds, aided by South Africa and Argentina.
In the Rugby Championship so far, the All Blacks defeated Argentina 20-16, after not scoring in the second half.
A 16-all draw in the second match against South Africa led former Wallabies star Phil Waugh to label the world's No.1 team "vulnerable".
"They're not nearly as dominant as they were - almost to the point where you could say are they the best team in the world at the moment? I really don't know," Waugh said recently.
Australia and New Zealand have long had a fiery rivalry - although somewhat one-sided since 2002 when the Wallabies last won the trophy.
While it will be difficult for Australia to win it back in a two-match series (the Wallabies need to win both fixtures), it's an ideal time to make a statement in the lead-up to the World Cup.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen could be feeling the heat, lashing out at Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and calling him "Mickey Mouse".
Hansen was responding to questions about Mark Ella's 2016 claim "Mickey Mouse could coach the All Blacks to victory".
He quipped: "They've got Mickey Mouse coaching Aussie."
Cheika said it was "no drama for me".
"Respect is an important thing in footy. It's the nature of the game, you rip into each other and then you socialise after," he told reporters.
WHEN AND WHERE IS IT?
In 2019, there are just two Bledisloe Cup matches, with the World Cup scheduled to run from September 20 until November 2.
These will be both the Wallabies and All Blacks' last fixtures before the World Cup.
Saturday August 10, 7.45pm AEST at Optus Stadium, Perth
The Bledisloe Cup opener will be a historic event as the two countries meet in Perth for the first time.
Saturday August 17, 5.35pm AEST at Eden Park, Auckland
Eden Park holds some nightmares for the Wallabies - it's been 18 games dating back to 1986 since Australia last won at the ground.
GAME 1 TEAMS
15. Kurtley Beale; 14. Reece Hodge, 13. James O'Connor, 12. Samu Kerevi, 11. Marika Koroibete; 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Nic White; 8. Isi Naisarani, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto; 5. Rory Arnold, 4. Izack Rodda; 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Tolu Latu, 1. Scott Sio.
Substitutes: 16. Folau Fainga'a, 17. James Slipper, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Adam Coleman, 20. Luke Jones, 21. Will Genia, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Tom Banks.
15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Ben Smith, 13. Jack Goodhue, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Richie Mo'unga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7. Sam Cane, 6. Ardie Savea, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Scott Barrett, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Dane Coles, 1. Joe Moody. Substitutes: 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Atu Moli, 18. AngusTa'avao, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Ngani Laumape, 23. George Bridge.
HOW CAN I WATCH?
The Bledisloe Cup begins on Saturday, August 10, and Kayo, Australia's multi-sport streaming service, will bring rugby fans all the action LIVE and ad-break free during play.
With Kayo's game-changing features including Interactive Stats, From Start, Key Moments, No Spoilers, SplitView and Kayo Minis, fans won't have to miss a moment of the action.
Fans can catch all 48 games of the Rugby World Cup LIVE and On-Demand on Kayo, plus coverage of the Men's and Women's Rugby Sevens plus plenty more.
Channel 10 also has the free-to-air rights for the Bledisloe Cup.
The Wallabies are rank outsiders at $5.00 on both Ladbrokes and Sportsbet, while the All Blacks are at $1.17 and $1.18 respectively. Australia gets a 13.5 point start in line betting. For Australia to somehow snap the All Blacks 17-year grip on the Bledisloe Cup, Sportsbet are offering $17 for the Wallabies and $1.01 for the Kiwis.