Cape Town - Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock has laughed off Steve Hansen's suggestion that the All Blacks would start as underdogs for the Bledisloe opener.
Hansen made the claims when announcing his squad on Monday, despite his side having won 15 of the past 19 meetings between the sides.
“We lost to Australia the last time we played them, so no doubt they’ll have a lot of self-confidence and are worthy of starting as favourites,” Hansen said when announcing his squad on Monday.
His comments sparked guffaws from former players and pundits either side of the Tasman sea, who also pointed to the fact that Australian Super Rugby sides had struggled against their New Zealand counterparts in recent times.
“There’s been a lot of pleasing signs for Australia this year so I’m not going to just write us off,” former Wallabies captain Mortlock told Australian Associated Press this week.
“But I think it’s pretty laughable that Steve could put it out there and claim that they’re underdogs.
“New Zealand’s dominance has been outstanding. Not just against Australia but on a global stage.”
The Rugby Championship kicks off on August 18, with the Wallabies hosting the All Blacks in Sydney and the Springboks clashing with Argentina in Durban.