Scott Morrison has cheekily told new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie not to “stuff it up” as the New Zealander leads Australia against the All Blacks on Sunday.
Rennie is in charge of the Wallabies for the first time as they take on New Zealand in the first Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington.
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During a message to the Aussies posted on the Wallabies’ Twitter account, Morrison wished Rennie and his players the best of luck.
However he threw in a cheeky jab at the same time.
“No pressure mate, just don’t stuff it up,” the PM said.
“Seriously, Dave’s new leadership marks what I think is a new start for a new era of the Wallabies.
“An era that will be defined as much by the culture of that team that is created both on the field and off the field.”
It’s been 19 years since the Wallabies won a Test in New Zealand, which Morrison remembers all too well.
“You know it’s been a long time since we won in New Zealand. I was actually there when that happened,” he said.
“Who can forget John Eales’ last-minute penalty in Wellington in 2000? Or Matt Burke’s heroics at Dunedin the following year?
“These moments are part of Australia’s rugby folklore.”
First rugby Test match since virus crisis
Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener will put an end to almost an entire year without international rugby.
Not since South Africa hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup in November last year have two top-tier rugby nations competed on the pitch.
The deck is stacked against Australia, with a new coach, four international debutants and the challenge of quarantine before you consider the formidable opponents.
It’s been 19 years since the Wallabies have won away to New Zealand, and the All Blacks are hungry to start their own new chapter under first-time coach Ian Foster.
Captain Sam Cane, in his first outing as appointed skipper, said the All Blacks didn't need to tap into their World Cup semi-final exit for motivation.
“It's the start of a new era and the Bledisloe Cup is on the line,” he said, matter-of-factly.
“We want to go out there and put the first mark in the sand and win that.”
In his own first outing with the Wallabies, Wellington-raised Rennie will blood Harry Wilson, Hunter Paisami and Filipo Daugunu against the world No.2s.
Flyhalf Noah Lolesio is likely to debut off the bench, while Jake Gordon could also come into play for just his second outing in gold.
Win or lose, the Wallabies can at least celebrate captain Michael Hooper’s 100th Test.
Hooper said the afternoon kickoff, at 4pm local or 2pm AEDT, gave him a new experience in his milestone match - which could also help with any pre-match butterflies in the stomach.
“It's great playing in the afternoon. I've never played an afternoon Bledisloe,” he said.
“The beauty of an afternoon game is there's not an extended draw out to the game.
“You wake up, you have breakfast, maybe have a bit of an activation at some point and before you know it you’re on the bus.”
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