Adam Ashley-Cooper admits ending Australia’s losing streak against New Zealand is a major motivation ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup clash at ANZ Stadium.
The Wallabies have lost their previous nine encounters against the number one-ranked All Blacks, dating back to July 2008.
Another defeat this weekend would see Robbie Deans’ men set a new record for consecutive defeats against New Zealand, beating the old mark set from 1936-47.
But Ashley-Cooper is confident the Wallabies are finally ready to turn the tide against the All Blacks following Sunday’s historic 41-39 win over South Africa at altitude.
“It’s in the mindset because of the special win we had in Bloemfontein,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“That was a hoodoo broken after 47 years so, if we can do that, (ending) a nine-game losing streak is possible.
“It’s going to be a great challenge but one we’re looking forward to because I feel the momentum has shifted with the Wallabies and hopefully things are starting to come off.
“We haven’t beat the All Blacks for a while, it’d be really nice to break that hoodoo as well.
“It’s a game of fine margins at this level and you can’t afford to make any error. We feel the gap is closing between us and the Kiwis but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
But the 26-year-old, who will line-up at outside centre for the fourth straight Test having started the season at full-back, is under no illusions regarding the challenge that awaits.
“It’s the best competing backline in the world at the moment and it was obviously a very tough encounter in Christchurch a few weeks back,” he said.
“They’re just so talented and dynamic, they threaten from all over the backline, they’re strong in defence. There’s a great connection between all the players.”
With Hurricanes youngster Aaron Cruden set to make his first Test start for injured fly-half Dan Carter, who is recovering from ankle surgery, inside-centre Ma’a Nonu is expected to play a major role as the All Blacks look to adopt a more direct approach.
And Ashley-Cooper says it will take a collective effort from the midfield, which also includes the much smaller Matt Giteau and Quade Cooper, to stop the All Blacks number 12.
“He attracts quite a few defenders because he has a big (physical) presence,” he said.
“He’s great with ball in hand, very dominant, direct and solid in attack. We’ve got to be on our game defensively through that midfield because he’s good at getting over the advantage line and presenting quick ball.”
Asked what affect Carter’s absence will have on the All Blacks, who are also expected to start exciting winger Israel Dagg instead of Joe Rokocoko, Ashley-Cooper replied: “It won’t change too much, Cruden is obviously very talented, he’s played with the majority of the backline (at the Hurricanes).
“I’m sure he’ll be very familiar with how things go. They might lose a little bit of Dan Carter’s direction – they’ll lose a little there but Cruden’s more than talented enough to fill those boots.”