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Wallabies ignore Steve Hansen's jibes before Bledisloe Cup


Darren Walton

The Wallabies are refusing to engage in All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's pre-Bledisloe psychological warfare, instead keeping their powder dry until hostilities begin on Saturday night.

Hansen fired a succession of shots across the Tasman before departing New Zealand on Thursday, and Kurtley Beale and coach Ewen McKenzie were his two main targets.

Claiming to be "dumbfounded" by Beale's selection at five-eighth ahead of incumbent Bernard Foley, the niggly All Blacks mentor suspected McKenzie promoted the off-contract star from the bench last Test to help keep him in Australian rugby.

“I was a little dumbfounded by it initially,” Hansen said of Beale's selection at No.10. “I thought 'why would he [McKenzie] do that?' and came to the conclusion that maybe Ewen doesn’t trust [Foley] to be able to do what he wants against us, or if you really think about it, the other guy [Beale] is under contract and league are chasing him, so you might start thinking maybe the ARU have told him he’s got to pick him."

The Wallabies, though, are saving any retaliatory strikes until kick-off, saying only that they are backing McKenzie's chief weapon of choice.

ACT Brumbies Nic White and inside-centre Matt Toomua, who will play either side of Beale for the Wallabies, said the classy playmaker had made a smooth transition into the No.10 role after playing inside-centre during the Waratahs' successful Super Rugby campaign.

"I think a lot of people forget that he's played 42 Tests, so he's leaps and bounds ahead of me, so he's dragging me along at the moment," White said.

Toomua noted how Beale played all his schoolboy football at five-eighth, as well as several Tests in the position and the 2008 Super Rugby final as a teenager.

"He's not going to be overawed by this by any means," said Toomua, who will also slot into five-eighth at times during the Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium.

"I've played a bit there myself, too. In saying that, he is calling the shots and I won't be stepping on his toes at all. He is the chief playmaker and we're more than comfortable having him there."

A known on-field sledger, White was not overly surprised by Hansen's apparent attempt to unsettle the Wallabies.

"Yeah, I don't know what his motives are there, but it's obviously interesting and it's a bit of conspiracy I guess," he said. "But why not plant the seed if I was him?"

Hansen also took aim at the Wallabies talking about their need to end the All Blacks' 11-year domination of the Bledisloe Cup, but White said there was merely a level of quiet optimism in their ranks.

"Because a lot of teams have been confident coming up against the All Blacks and been done and done well," White said.

"So it's about that cautious confidence, but confidence goes a long way in team sport and just riding the back of the Waratahs' success and, at the moment, Australian rugby's in a good place.

"So you've got to be confident to play your best footy but, at the same time, know [the Kiwis have] got confidence in spades and they've got that confidence in the tough times in games and in the pressure moments.

"They'll have that confidence to back their game plan and back their players, so I guess we have to match that and try to take it up a notch.

"The Waratahs have done it all season. It's a step up again, but I'd like to think we're in a good place to give it a crack."

McKenzie, meanwhile, finalised his bench on Thursday, omitting back-rower Ben McCalman and deciding on a traditional 5-3 split of forwards and back-line cover.


HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45Leicester City Stadium
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
View all

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