SYDNEY – Australia scrum-half Will Genia described the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand as rugby's “pinnacle” Monday, ranking it even higher than the Rugby World Cup.
The Wallabies have not won the trans-Tasman series since 2002 and Genia is hungry for victory after playing in seven losing Bledisloe campaigns.
“To me, I'd have to say it's the pinnacle,” he told reporters as Michael Cheika's men prepare to face the All Blacks at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
“The World Cup is obviously up there, but how often do you get to play the best team in the world three times and have to win two out of three to win a trophy? I've been trying for a while now so I'm really looking forward to another crack.”
The influential 30-year-old said he relished the chance to prove himself against the back-to-back world champions.
“I haven't won a World Cup so I'm not going to say it's harder,” he said. “But for me it's the number one priority... it would make it incredibly special if we're fortunate enough to do it.”
Australia won their last meeting against New Zealand in Brisbane in 2017 and Genia said they wanted to repeat that form in Saturday's first Bledisloe Test, which doubles as the opening match of the Rugby Championship.
“It's just being relentless in the pressure you apply on them, with and without the ball, and bringing that physicality as well,” he said. “That was a big trademark of our game when we played them last time in Brisbane (a 23-18 win).”
Genia said the return of flanker David Pocock, who was on sabbatical for last year's series, would lift the Wallabies.
“In the Rugby World Cup in 2015, he was one of the best players on the planet. He brings his ability as a player but also drives standards off the field,” he said.
The Wallabies have suffered heavy defeats in the past two Bledisloe openers and playmaker Kurtley Beale said they wanted to avoid a similar fate in Sydney.
The Australians played a trial match this month to ensure they did not go into the series underdone and Beale said Cheika had emphasised the need for a strong start.
“In the last few training sessions, it's been spoken about a lot... focusing on trying to start the game with a bang,” he said.
“I'm sure that focus is going to put us in a really good position.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)