Wallabies chase watershed win
RUGBY UNION: Ipswich Grammar product Izack Rodda hopes his Wallabies can endure an Eden Park blackout on Saturday and gift long-suffering fans the Bledisloe Cup miracle they deserve.
It is one of the largest trophies in world sport and it has been the centrepiece in the Kiwis' cabinet for far too long.
Australia has not held the coveted cup since the George Gregan led side retained it in 2002. The men in gold have not won at the Auckland venue for 18 matches dating back to 1986. New Zealand last met defeat at their fortress in 1994 when infiltrated by Les Bleus.
The Wallabies will face the most hostile of receptions, with the streets plunged into darkness as an entire nation wills their failure.
But if they can navigate through the night there is light at the end in the form of an unexpected Bledisloe triumph that may just capture the imaginations of the wider Australian public ahead of the World Cup which begins September 20.
Saturday night's 47-26 thumping at Perth's Optus Stadium was Rodda's first victory over the greatest team in world sport in four attempts and it came without Israel Folau.
Rodda said Folau was not discussed within the inner sanctum, with players instead focusing on their own preparations and matters which they could control.
As it often does, the absence of arguably their best player seemed to galvanise the remaining Wallabies bolstered by a reborn James O'Connor. But the conquest did not come without controversy with New Zealand lock Scott Barrett shown a red card for a dangerous shoulder to the head of Australian captain Michael Hooper immediately prior to half-time. The Wallabies capitalised, with Reece Hodge and Samu Kerevi starring.
Set piece specialist Rodda worked tirelessly at the breakdown and offered a reliable lineout target.
The towering 202cm 119kg lock thought he performed solidly in the latest clash with the All Blacks but would continue to build as he adjusted to the increased speed and intensity of Test rugby.
He said the lineout functioned effectively when in possession and kept the pressure firmly applied on the Kiwis' ball, while the scrum stood up and held its own.
Rodda said the Wallabies had marked the Bledisloe opener down as a game they wanted to win on the road to Japan and it was an unreal feeling to have secured the breakthrough result.
He said players simply adhered to the gameplan and executed better than they had in previous encounters with the All Blacks.
"Hopefully, we can maintain the same form leading into next week,” he said.
"They boys are pumped. We haven't won at Eden Park for a while and the Bledisloe is on the line.
"We are looking to build momentum leading into the World Cup. What better way to start than winning the Bledisloe Cup back.”
Rodda said the send off of Barrett in the 40th minute with the Australians leading 13-12 had not detracted from the achievement. Though he conceded it is definitely harder playing with 14.
"No. I don't think so,” he said.
"That is the letter of the law and it was the ref's call. Even though they were a man down, they are a quality team and they were still in it for the majority.”
A watershed Bledisloe win would be an ideal early birthday present for Rodda who turns 23 on August 20.