Wallabies' defence plan backed

Grey is again under fierce scrutiny from angry Australian rugby supporters following Saturday's horrific 54-34 defeat, which has put New Zealand on track for a 15th straight year of Bledisloe Cup domination.

Australia missed an incredible 48 tackles and conceded more points than they ever have against the All Blacks, who cut through Grey's defensive structure at will to lead 54-6 shortly after halftime.

Grey admitted it wasn't good enough but said he was "very confident" he and the rest of the coaching staff would turn things around.

All Blacks thrash Australia 54-34

Michael Cheika's side may have been clear underdogs at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, but few could have anticipated just how dominant their opponents would be in an embarrassingly one-sided opening 50 minutes, before Australia rallied with the match well beyond them.

Playing with a devastating mix of pace and precision, the All Blacks crossed six times before the interval to end the game as a contest - Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty each claiming braces as Damian McKenzie justified his selection at full-back with a series of dazzling breaks.

Hooper hangs on to Bledisloe dream

Three of the Wallabies matchday 23 - Ned Hanigan, Sean McMahon and Curtis Rona - have never played against the All Blacks and close to half the team was not a part of last year’s Sydney debacle.

Though Hooper maintained their focus was incredibly narrow heading into the Test, when asked if he let his thoughts wander to the idea of winning the trophy, he was honest.

“This group's come together this year to do something and what's wrong with a dream? What's wrong with a goal that everyone here wants to achieve?," he said.

Wallabies believe in both sides of Bledisloe coin

Kurtley Beale and Samu Kerevi add some X-Factor, while the inclusion of debutant Curtis Rona on the wing with Henry Speight brings more finishing ability, but it’s the other side of the coin that has hurt the Wallabies in the past.

The Wallabies missed 38 tackles in last year’s Bledisloe opener, conceding 42 points in the process.

Since then, defence coach Nathan Grey has become a full-time Wallabies assistant and Cheika was adamant those issues had been sorted out.

“We've been working hard on that area,” he said.

Rona handed dream debut against All Blacks

Rona has transformed from a Super Rugby rookie into a Wallabies winger in just seven months, having made his debut for the Force against the Waratahs back in August.

But Dane Haylett-Petty's bicep injury, combined with Rona's sustained, superb form for Dave Wessels' side this season, has made him a firm favourite of Michael Cheika's.

The Wallabies coach has been complimentary of Rona's approach at training and his abrasiveness will be seen as a blunt weapon when the Wallabies square off with the almighty All Blacks on Saturday night.

Wallabies need to strike attacking balance

Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau will be reunited on Saturday night, and it didn’t take much for the fullback to show exactly why Beale’s return is so anticipated by Australia.

One of Australia’s most prolific Test finishers can’t wait to have his Waratahs teammate back,  just for the flow-on of confidence the utility has in a side.

“You grow that extra leg when you know you have him beside you. He brings a lot more confidence to your game and it’s exciting,” Folau said.

“Guys like KB they don’t come around too often.

Polota-Nau focused on Wallabies

Polota-Nau is one of six Western Force representatives in a 34-man Wallabies squad who are still coming to terms with the Australian Rugby Union's decision to axe them from Super Rugby. 

Although RugbyWA has launched an appeal in the Supreme Court of NSW, the thought that the Force could cease to exist next year has impacted players privately. 

Wallabies settle in the west

Staying in Penrith for the first part of the week, the Wallabies are removed from the usual Moore Park surrounds of other Sydney weeks, a change skipper Michael Hooper is enjoying.

“The facilities are fantastic out here, so we're able to stay and walk to our grounds and really have that focus on footy and connect with the people out here,” he said.

Though they’re out of the inner-city bubble, things are starting to get real fast for the Wallabies and Hooper, for one, can’t wait.

Kerevi keen to combine with Beale

Kerevi's 2016 Wallabies debut came at a time when Beale was out injured, prior to his departure for Wasps.

That crossing of stars has left the pair with very little on field time together but that will, in all likelihood, change this year with Beale back on deck and Kerevi in career best form this Super Rugby season.

The star outside centre was cut down by injury in the Reds' loss to the Blues but prior to that he was the clear standout 13 in the competition and that was recognised this week, when he was named in the Super Rugby Team of the Year.

Cheika makes final call on Bledisloe Cup squad

Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu has played little part in training after a neck injury, with Uelese's impressive showing in camp putting him right into Test contention.

Uelese is one of five Rebels in the camp, with the Waratahs having nine representatives, Queensland seven and the Brumbies and Force six.

Kurtley Beale, likely to be the first-choice 12, is set for a Wallabies return, though Cheika has kept on all bar one of his squad centres for the first Test