Wallaby lock welcomes more niggle before Bledisloe Test
Salakaia-Loto says it is fun, part of the game, and ‘should be encouraged because you get a few laughs and a few smiles out of it’
Lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto says Australia will be ready for more niggle from the All Blacks in the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on Saturday after the New Zealanders got in their faces at Eden Park. ’
A fired-up All Blacks side beat Australia 27-7 in the second match in Auckland, with hooker Dane Coles doing his best to ruffle the Wallabies’ feathers on his recall to the starting side.
Coles instigated an early confrontation with Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou at Eden Park and ran out of his way to give Salakaia-Loto a pat on the back after Aaron Smith scored the All Blacks’ first try.
Salakaia-Loto said he liked the niggle and that the Wallabies were well prepared for whatever came their way in Sydney.
“Wherever you play and whoever you play, you’re always going to have players or come across packs who try to get under your skin,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “For us, we’ve faced that all year, especially when we play those derbies in Super Rugby.
“It’s good. It’s a fun part of the game and it’s a part of the game I reckon should be encouraged because you get a few laughs and a few smiles out of it.”
Salakaia-Loto said he was not too close with any of the All Blacks but had shared a beer with Coles after the game.
“It was pretty funny. I’m sure the boys will be looking forward to seeing them,” he said. “I just remember Dane Coles running about 50m after they scored to pat me on the back. I found that pretty funny.
“I haven’t heard anything too funny [from him]. I’m sure he’ll have a few lines up his sleeve this week.”
Not securing the Bledisloe Cup before leaving New Zealand rankles with the All Blacks, fullback Beauden Barrett said on Tuesday, but it does offer the twice World Player of the Year the opportunity of breaking new ground in Australia.
The 29-year-old has won the Rugby World Cup, six Rugby Championships and seven Bledisloe Cups over his 84-Test career but has never before secured the trophy that symbolises trans-Tasman Sea rugby supremacy on Australian soil.
Barrett missed the first Bledisloe Cup Test — a 16-16 draw in Wellington — but returned with a sparkling display in Auckland as the All Blacks took a 1-0 series lead with a 27-7 victory nine days ago.
“Yes, of course it bothers us,” Barrett said of failing to sweep the home Tests. “But we can’t be too arrogant and assume we’re going to win every game at home. We do respect Australia and we are up for the challenge that is presented this weekend.
“We haven’t won the Bledisloe Cup on their soil for a long time and we’ve got the opportunity to do that ... we’re pretty excited about that challenge.”
The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 17th straight season in 2019 despite a 47-26 thrashing at the hands of the Wallabies in the series opener in Perth after Barrett’s brother Scott was sent off.
“It’s important to remember how you felt in the changing rooms or in the game during those moments and use that as fuel,” Barrett told reporters from the team’s camp in Sydney.
“It was a reality check ... and essentially we don’t want it to happen again. That one just really showed their strengths when everything goes to plan and we don’t front up physically and emotionally.”
Saturday doubles as the first clash in the Rugby Championship, which also includes Argentina.
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