New Zealand try to equal most consecutive wins mark tomorrow

All Blacks will equal most consecutive victories if they beat Australia

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 2:21am


The all-conquering New Zealand All Blacks will equal the most number of consecutive wins by a major test-playing nation if they down Australia in Brisbane in the final Bledisloe Cup match of the season tomorrow.

The All Blacks have strung together 16 straight victories against all-comers and are one test win away from joining the 1969 All Blacks and 1998 South African Springboks with 17 successive victories.

The record of 18 is held by European minnows Lithuania from 2008-2010 while playing other minor teams.

New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions and winners of this year's inaugural four-nation Rugby Championship, last lost against the Wallabies (25-20) at this weekend's Brisbane venue 14 months ago.

The All Blacks are overwhelming favourites, having won all their six matches in this year's Rugby Championship against southern hemisphere rivals South Africa, Australia and Argentina and going through last year's home World Cup unbeaten.

They face an Australia side racked by injuries to key players and whose coach Robbie Deans is under pressure to hold on to his job.

The Wallabies have had a fitful season of few highs, a shock home loss to Scotland and heavy defeats to New Zealand and South Africa.

While New Zealand are expected to put the Wallabies to the sword tomorrow, they are mindful it could rev up the Australians to defy expectations.

"We're aware of it and not trying to hide away from it, but we know it doesn't give you any points on the board," All Blacks centre Conrad Smith said of the pending record.

"It can motivate the opposition as much as ourselves."

But there are also internal factors driving on the benchmark All Blacks this weekend.

It will be hooker Keven Mealamu's 100th test match, while the All Blacks will show their respect to their coach Steve Hansen, whose father, Des, 78, died this week after suffering a stroke.

Confidence is high across the Tasman that the All Blacks can inflict further suffering on the Wallabies, who under Deans have won just three times in 17 encounters with New Zealand since 2008.

The Wallabies, already without leading stars Will Genia, David Pocock, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor and Stephen Moore with long-term injuries, will be missing winger Digby Ioane (knee) and back-up hooker Saia Faingaa, who broke his hand at training this week.

But utility Adam Ashley-Cooper is back from injury on the wing and power runner Wycliff Palu at number eight following a 16-week lay-off from a shoulder injury.

"The All Blacks are very effective around the contact so to have someone like Cliffy [Palu] down the inside channel, where the All Blacks apply a lot of resources, it'll be good to have him providing resistance," Deans said.