Kepu ready for 'massive' showdown
Australia prop Sekope Kepu believes the Wallabies' "engine room" has a huge role to play in deciding Sunday's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Eden Park.
Australia are bidding to reach a fourth World Cup final, and they will arrive at their All Blacks showdown after knocking out defending champions South Africa. And Kepu has no doubt about an area where the Wallabies must get it right in their attempt to repeat a Tri-Nations victory over New Zealand less than two months ago.
"The breakdown is massive, so it will be up to us in the engine room to actually provide the platform and the front-foot ball for our backs," he said. "For many of the boys this is the biggest game of our careers. It can't get much bigger than this."
Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore shares Kepu's view that Australia must look to dominate up-front, which will include improving a lineout display that proved below average against South Africa.
"The physical battle, the breakdown, those contests are going to be crucial to the outcome of the game," Moore said. "They are going to come out all guns blazing. and we wouldn't expect anything less.
"We have been working on our lineout this week. We certainly weren't happy with how it functioned against South Africa. They put a lot of pressure on our ball, and we've worked accordingly on that."
Wallabies centre Pat McCabe, meanwhile, is confident the shoulder problem that has bothered him throughout the tournament will not resurface during the semi-final.
"I guess it's always in the back of your mind," said McCabe, who was forced off against South Africa after originally being hurt during a pool stage victory over the United States. "I am not worried about the shoulder, but more if I let the team down by having to go off. Everything I've done this week suggests that it won't happen."
Despite Australia's impressive World Cup record, though, New Zealand will start as favourites to make the final on home territory.
All Blacks full-back Israel Dagg said: "It's a big game. Every game you play for the All Blacks is a big game. Obviously, it comes with pressures as well, so hopefully I can deal with those pressures and put my best foot forward and hopefully everyone else in the team can do the same."