Elsom keen to test All Blacks in HK
Wallaby skipper Rocky Elsom was yesterday quick to deflect attention away from the controversy that has swirled around next month's Bledisloe Cup match against New Zealand at Hong Kong Stadium.
He was even quicker to highlight how much the test - make that any test - between the two nations means to the men on the pitch.
'I haven't heard too much of it,' he said simply, referring to reports of poor ticket sales and noises from New Zealand suggesting the October 30 game be moved to London. 'For us it is a chance to play New Zealand and there is no more reason for motivation than simply that we are playing them. From their point of view the team are on quite a streak [but] I think [the streak] is just an extra reason to want to beat them.'
The Wallabies almost did just that 11 days ago, losing 23-22 to the All Blacks in Sydney.
That result gave the Kiwis a 3-0 lead in the cup series this year - they sealed it with a 20-10 victory in Christchurch - and a record 10 straight victories against Australia, so Elsom says there is plenty at stake in Hong Kong.
'There's one simple way to put the issue of the streak to rest and that's for us to win,' the 27-year-old said. 'I think to beat New Zealand is the thing that [Australian fans] like to see the most.
'People in Hong Kong can expect a game very similar to Sydney. New Zealand are playing the most attractive rugby at the moment but so do we as well, in different ways.'
Elsom was in the crowd when Hong Kong first hosted a Bledisloe Cup match in 2008 and says he liked what he saw.
'The last game was a success, it was very well supported,' Elsom said 'Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time there, so judging from that, and what has happened [this season] the game is going to be an even better spectacle. You never need a reason to win a test match, especially considering we are not happy with the way the Tri-Nations went, especially against New Zealand.
'In some ways we are fortunate to have another game. It is an opportunity [to win] and that's something we would really like to take.'
And with one eye on Hong Kong Stadium and perhaps the other glancing towards the World Cup next year, Elsom had a little warning.
'We are definitely getting stronger,' he said. 'There's no doubt about that.'