The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup for 19 years, but series clean sweeps are relatively uncommon despite that astonishing dominance.
So with Australia seemingly on the ropes, a 3-0 ‘black wash’ is foremost in the thoughts of All Blacks players and NZ media types ahead of Sunday’s match in Perth.
In the past 10 years, the All Blacks have had three clean sweeps – in 2013, 2016 and 2018.
Brodie Retallick, promoted to vice-captain for game three in his 86th Test, has called on his team to overcome the mental hurdle of complacency as they look to secure another.
Our 2️⃣3️⃣ to face Australia on Sunday ????
6:00pm kick-off NZT pic.twitter.com/QYgvBeK46y
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 3, 2021
“We put a lot of focus on winning the Bledisloe Cup and obviously you only need to do that twice,” said Retallick was quoted as saying by stuff.nz.
“I guess when you do win it you can kind of mentally slip or relax a little bit because you’ve achieved the goal of winning the Bledisloe.
“A clean sweep hasn’t been done that many times in the last 10 years and it’s a challenge for this team this week.
“The mental side of this week is massive, probably more so than the physical side in terms of preparation.
“We’ve wrapped the Bledisloe up before leaving New Zealand. I thought, especially in the second game, the Australian team turned up with real physicality. We played well and absorbed it before trying to break them down a little bit.
“They’re going to be desperate. They’re back on home turf in Perth. It’s definitely the mental challenge this week of making sure we prepare well and being up for another physical challenge.”
The All Blacks made five changes to the side that beat Australia 57-22 in the second Test in Auckland and Rettalick expects to be smarting.
“I hope it’s, if not better, at least the same performance because no doubt the Wallabies will turn up,” Retallick said.
“They’ve been sitting here for a few weeks now, waiting for this game, and they will be desperate to win as well.”
NZR’s decision to delay their journey to Australia, pushing the game back a week, has dominated discussion, and All Blacks’ hooker Cody Taylor has acknowledged some of the bad blood come out onto the field.
But he added: “The Aussies are always chipping away on the field.
“Whether or not it’s going to be a different feel for them or not, I am not sure.
“We have a lot of banter out there on the field. There is no love lost between the two teams.
“I don’t go out there to openly talk smack or anything but I am not one to step away from it (but) if there is something that needs to be said, I will say it.”
Taylor expects that if the Wallabies are unusually fired up it will be from stewing over their record defeat for an extra week, rather than the political posturing between the two unions.
“I think they will have other things that will be trying to fire them up, probably. In professional footy there is a little bit of politics involved in it.
“I think that’s what it came down to, at the end of the day. Their coach will be firing them up in more ways that one, I think.
“They have a lot to prove. It will be a bloody physical battle, I imagine, and they’ll be out to make up for what’s been.”
All Blacks starting halfback Brad Weber also played down the politics as a motivator.
“I don’t know. I usually think, particularly for us as players, we don’t really buy into the bullshit of the politics too much. We just try and focus on the game,” said Weber.
“I can’t speak for what the Aussies are like, or what they are thinking, but I would like to think … They are thinking the same way.”
Weber will go up against Australia’s Tate McDermott, who has emerged as the top halfback in the country this campaign.
???? The clash of the nines will be one to watch in Perth on Sunday.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 4, 2021
“I’ve played against him once, for the Reds this year and he tore our Chiefs team apart that night so he’s definitely a threat and something we’ve focused on because a lot of their game, particularly when they get quick ball and he’s on the front foot, he can be pretty dangerous for those guys around the fringes,” Weber said.
Weber, who played his first Test in 2015 but had to wait four years for his next, got the nod to start over TJ Perenara with Aaron Smith missing.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to have a lot of that persistence and patience pay off,” Weber said.
“I’m under no illusions. I’m a halfback playing in an era where we’ve got some of the greats, so I never take these opportunities for granted.
“I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get back into this side over a few years. Ever since I made it back, it’s been a goal to stay here and contribute as much as I can.
“Getting a start in a game like this has been one of those goals. Opportunities are few and far between with Aaron around.
“I’ve had one opportunity and I was real keen to play in a game as big as this against the Australians. This will be one of the biggest I’ve had to date.”
He will team up in the halves with Beauden Barrett, who he new back in schoolboys days.
“I’ve got no qualms in terms of a combination, or knowing where he’s going to be. We’ve got a good relationship so I don’t think we’ll have any dramas in that department,” he said.