NZ fear Australia backlash

2008-09-08 14:30

Sydney - New Zealand are bracing themselves for a torrid encounter against an Australia team desperate to restore their battered pride in Saturday's Tri-Nations title decider.

New Zealand go into the match as favourites after the Australians were thrashed 53-8 in their last game with South Africa but their players remain wary of a Wallaby backlash.

"From our point of view, that makes them pretty dangerous," New Zealand flyhalf Stephen Donald told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.

"It's a daunting proposition for us knowing they are going to come out after it has been lingering on their shoulders for the last couple of weeks."

This year's Tri-Nations has already featured a string of topsy-turvy results and form reversals from all three teams. Earlier in the season, Australia easily accounted for New Zealand 34-19 in Sydney only to lose 39-10 in Auckland a week later.

All Blacks centre Richard Kahui said previous form was clearly not a reliable guide to picking the winner of Saturday's championship decider.

"They have come off a loss against us and obviously the game at Johannesburg - they are going to come out firing," Kahui said.

"Everything is on the line this week. The Tri-Nations, the Bledisloe Cup and a bit of international pride as well.

"These are the sort of games that you live for. We will put our bodies on the line. We are not coming here thinking we are just going to pick up the trophies and leave."

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