The opening weekend of the Rugby Championships couldn't have asked for a better start, and Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie has revealed he will name the same 23-man squad that fought back to draw 12-12 with New Zealand for their second test.
The Wallabies took on the All Blacks in Sydney and were looking to end Steve Hansen's 18-game winning run. They did it in unorthodox fashion, coming back from 9-3 down to go on and draw the match.
It was a great game which Australia were desperate to win, coming out in the second half with a new-found fire in the 150th match-up between the two sides. It could have done with a try, but overall it was an enticing game.
But after such a spirited fightback, McKenzie noted in a recent interview that he will name an unchanged line-up for the follow-up game in Auckland on Saturday, insisting he will back his players until the end.
"You have to look at the game and say what worked, what didn’t?" McKenzie told the press.
"We didn’t start that well and we had a chance to win it at the end but we didn’t. So we will back the same group of guys to do it.
Fix not change
"In the end we had a look at the video and there are plenty of things we can fix and tidy up, so we will concentrate on that. We haven’t changed the team."
It is a brave move from McKenzie to field the same 15, let alone choose the 23 players again because it may go either way this weekend.
If the Wallabies go into the second match-up with the same 23 it could work in their favour, as they would have a stronger mind-set and know how to attack the All Blacks having gained confidence from their 12-12 draw.
They understand what their advantages are in attacking play and how they can improve on defending, as the Wallabies missed a key penalty at the weekend which could have handed them the victory.
But this move could also work to Hansen's advantage, mainly because his team lost the lead and know how to move forward believing they can beat the same 23 again in Auckland.
They would be able to study their weaknesses and from looking over the game footage it could supply more information about their neighbours heading into game two of the Rugby Championships.
Australia may go into game two with confidence after the draw, but they will have to remember that they have never beaten New Zealand in Auckland.
In fact, the last time Australia beat New Zealand on their home turf was back in 2001; 13 years ago in the year when Australia went on to win the Tri-Nations title.
McKenzie has to understand this is a monumental task for his players, as this winless run in New Zealand has been going on for more than a decade. But, if the Wallabies stay in the right mind-set and take the game to New Zealand, it may help Australia cause a major upset 12 months ahead of the World Cup.
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