New Zealand are preparing for another instalment in the long-standing All Blacks-Wallabies rivalry and a place in the World Cup final.
The team has three enforced changes including another at number 10 with their third choice, Aaron Cruden set to start.
New Zealand, the world’s number one-ranked team, are attempting to win the tournament for the first time in 24 years, and have not reached the final since 1995.
“In front of 60,000 people, and a fair majority of them supporting you, it’s pretty awesome. And as a player, you want to go out there and perform and I think, if anything, it is what reminds the guys that this is the occasion to play well,” Richie McCaw, New Zealand captain.
The Wallabies beat the All Blacks on home turf in August but have not won at Eden Park for a quarter of a century. Ten of the Australian team were not even born when they last won at the semi final venue and they will be without regular full-back Kurtley Beale.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for Kurtley himself. He’s worked very hard to do everything he could to get right but he felt is just wasn’t right. But we’ve trained all week without him there, or without the chance to have him there, so we’re fully prepared for the situation of him not being able to play,” explained James Horwill, Australia captain.
One point was the difference in France’s 9-8 victory over Wales, ‘There is no small victory at this stage, only victory counts,” said France prop Fabien Barcella who with his side wait to find out if it is Australia or New Zealand in the final.
Les Blues have played in two other World Cup finals losing to New Zealand and then Australia.