Rugby: Wallabies closing gap on All Blacks but need to believe it, says John Eales

The Wallabies came up just short against the All Blacks in Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies legend John Eales believes the gap between the Australian team and the All Blacks is closing, but says a shift in mindset must happen for more progress to be made.

The Wallabies came close to tipping up their New Zealand counterparts in Melbourne last week as they looked to end their 20-year Bledisloe Cup drought.

While the All Blacks were able to pull off the late comeback and lock the Cup away for another year, there were plenty of positive signs from the Wallabies – who were without several first-choice players in key positions against an almost full-strength All Blacks side.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Elliott Smith, Eales said it was clear the Wallabies were starting to believe they were good enough.

“A lot of the time you can be good, but if you don’t believe you’re good or good enough against a certain opposition, that can plague your mind,” he said.

“Going in with the mindset that if you do your best you’re going to have a chance of winning this game is a very important mindset.

“You don’t want to go in with a containment philosophy thinking ‘we just want to minimize damage control here’. You want to go in thinking ‘we can genuinely beat this team’.

“We’ve been up against some pretty good New Zealand teams, we’ve had a struggle with certain other issues in Australia, losing players younger. I think we are closer, but we’ve got to believe. We’ve got to keep some of these guys and we’ve got to work with them so they not only settle for this level of performance but say ‘OK, how can we be better?’ “

After losing the test in Melbourne in heartbreaking fashion, the Wallabies now face the challenge of regathering themselves to head into enemy territory.

Much like the Bledisloe Cup drought, it has been a long time since the Wallabies have tasted victory at Eden Park – with their last win coming at the venue in 1986. It’s a venue the All Blacks have thrived at, with the last loss being in 1994.

While it’s an imposing record, former Wallabies wing Drew Mitchell said there was a simple factor that played into it.

“I’ll tell you why it’s so hard to win at Eden Park, it’s because of the bloody All Blacks team we play against each time we play there,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“There’s nothing to it; there’s nothing about the stadium that makes it more difficult to play than anywhere else. It’s just the 15 men – or the 23 you end up lining up against – that make it really difficult.”


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