What Bledisloe test? Why All Blacks are being ignored by Aussie media – New Zealand Herald

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Jordie Barrett has had time to check out other sports as the All Blacks prepare for the Bledisloe Cup test. Photo / Photosport
From dominating the front and back pages to relative obscurity. In a city gripped by Aussie Rules fever, the All Blacks arrival in Melbourne has slipped by with less attention than another passing tram.
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At this point, though, the All Blacks are not so much flying under the radar as not on the local agenda.
One weekend paper featured 16 dedicated pages to the Queen’s death, with seven sport pages filled by coverage of the AFL finals series.
As peak AFL season takes hold, rival oval ball codes sit a distant third in the local landscape – as is evident by the Melbourne Storm’s home NRL finals match on Saturday night against the Canberra Raiders generating one small story.
The All Blacks and Dave Rennie’s Wallabies, who curiously don’t arrive in Melbourne until Tuesday, five days after Ian Foster’s men, have not warranted a mention.
Such a backdrop is a world away from the intense scrutiny the All Blacks have endured during this year’s volatile test campaign that’s featured four losses and three wins.
In that context the chance to sidestep the spotlight, to walk down the street without being recognised, is rare indeed.
Before settling into preparations for the Wallabies many of the All Blacks squad savoured a venture to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday night to take in the AFL semifinal between the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Demons.
On Saturday night more than 90,000 locals will pack the same venue as an army of Collingwood Magpies fans host a sold-out spectacle against the Fremantle Dockers.
With his height and booming boot All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett would not look out of place in an AFL arena. While he enjoyed viewing Brisbane’s upset in Friday’s match, Barrett made it clear the lack of local attention on the All Blacks would not translate to any form of complacency.
“It’s the AFL finals week so there’s plenty going on but more importantly we’ve got a Bledisloe to win,” Barrett said. “We’ve freshened up, we’ve had a few days off, and we’ve got an Aussie side that’s hurting after their loss to South Africa so there’s a great feeling in camp.
“It was cool to understand a different game. It’s an interesting concept to grasp a whole city that’s mad on one sport. It’s quite physical and they’ve got great skillsets so it’s interesting to watch as an outside back who loves kicking and catching.
“It was good to get a taste of that, get out of the environment and get back to prepare for the Australians.
“I don’t think it makes a difference to us and the way we want to prepare. Whether everyone is out there talking about us or not we’ve got a job to do, we need to prepare accordingly. There’s an Australian side that hasn’t had a taste of the Bledisloe in a long time so if we’re any short of our mark in terms of our preparation we just open ourselves up, so we’re going to nail each day this week.”
While they emerge from the emphatic 53-3 demolition job on the Pumas in Hamilton, the All Blacks know they must effectively start again to break the cycle of their wild form fluctuations as they seek to extend their near two-decade dominance of the coveted Bledisloe and push on to claim an unlikely Rugby Championship title.
Attempting to replicate the attacking variety that produced seven tries against the Pumas is not as simple as rolling out the same blueprint.
“It’s very much week to week,” Barrett said. “The Wallabies might present something completely different to the way we preview them. The lessons we had between Argie tests one and two are we need to make those shifts during the game and try to execute that – not a week later.
“There will be trends we will be looking to test Australia through their defence but if they do something different we’ve got to be able to adapt on the run and come up with a plan during a game.”

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