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Wallabies to lift game

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SYDNEY - Far from back-slapping, Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is warning his Bledisloe Cup dreamers they must raise their game to a whole new level to challenge the All Blacks.

McKenzie was delighted with his side's historic 3-0 series sweep over France, but admitted ending the all-conquering All Blacks' 12-year Bledisloe reign was a different story.

New Zealand will be shooting for a world-record 18 straight Test wins when they tackle Australia in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on August 16 after completing their own 3-0 series whitewash of England on Saturday.

"The All Blacks' intensity in the third Test against England, that's your benchmark," McKenzie said on Tuesday.

"They basically outplayed the English in terms of pace and power — and England's not a small squad.

"They've got very good players, but they weren't able to stick with the All Blacks in that first half.

"So that's what we've got to deal with. We start with that and say 'how are we going to measure up there?'."

McKenzie believes Australian players mixing it with All Blacks and Springboks routinely in Super Rugby is one distinct advantage the Wallabies have that England didn't when they confronted the world champions.

"So in that sense, we've got a lot of familiarity and that's a positive," he said.

"But we've had that for a long time and it hasn't helped us.

"But I think we've gone to another level in terms of confidence and we've found a way of playing that suits us.

"Now we just need to get it tactically right and make sure we've got the right players."

McKenzie has challenged his Test stars to sustain their good form over the closing rounds of Super Rugby to ensure they're peaking for the All Blacks.

"Once you set standards for yourself as a player, my expectation is that you're going to maintain that standard," he said.

"My expectations are that they keep playing like Test players.

"That's what I'm looking for."


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