Auckland: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has revamped his misfiring pack for the must-win second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on Saturday but denies the Australians have been scarred by the mauling the All Blacks’ forwards inflicted in the series opener.
Cheika made a series of changes to the team that lost 38-13 in Sydney, including an injury-enforced move from wing to fullback for Dane Haylett-Petty to replace Israel Folau.
Jack Maddocks, who scored Australia’s only try when he made his international debut off the bench last weekend, earned his first Test spot when he was named to take Haylett-Petty’s customary spot out wide.
Brumbies back Tom Banks could also make his first international appearance off the bench if the Wallabies need a late injection of speed.
But it was the unforced changes made to the forward pack that showed where Cheika is looking for improvement after a string of scrum penalties and line-out turnovers in Sydney.
Props Sekope Kepu and Tom Robertson were relegated to the bench in favour of Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio, who missed last week’s match with a shoulder injury.
Cheika has kept faith with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau but named Folau Faingaa as a potential debutant off the bench if there is a repeat of last week’s lineout woes.
Australia need a win at Eden Park to keep the three-Test Bledisloe series alive but they have not had a victory at the venue since 1986.
If they lose it will give New Zealand the trans-Tasman trophy for the 16th year in a row.
Australia were talking up their chances ahead of the Sydney Test and Cheika denied they were struggling to cope after New Zealand’s dominance sparked a second-half collapse by the home team.
“We don’t need to overdo it, saying psychological scars and all that business,” he said.
“You’ve got to aim up and play and put pressure on and close all the doors ... When you do that, things usually go pretty good.”
Haylett-Petty has played all 22 of his previous Tests on the wing but prefers fullback, his position for the Melbourne Rebels.
Cheika did not expect Folau’s absence with an ankle injury to blunt the Australian attack.
“It won’t change anything around the shape of how we play. It’s been pretty much business as usual around that,” he said.
“We played without Izzy on the northern tour last year so we had a pretty good attack on that tour around different weapons.”
Cheika said his team were young and resilient enough to bounce back from the Sydney loss.
“I don’t think anyone’s expecting us to do it, so I don’t think anyone should feel any pressure,” he said.
“The only people that think we can do it is us and we’ll have to show it on Saturday, won’t we?”