Ellis talks up Wallabies clash
October 12, 2011
All Black scrum-half Andy Ellis thinks the World Cup semi-final will be the biggest game of many players lives © Getty Images
All Blacks scrum-half Andy Ellis believes that his side's recent history against Australia will count for little when they square up in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals this weekend.
Australia have two of their last three meetings including a success in Brisbane on their way to the Tri-Nations crown but before that they had lost 10 straight games to their cross-Tasman rivals. But Ellis has played down the significance of those results and insists the magnitude Sunday's encounter at Eden Park brings a whole new dimension to their rivalry.
"We haven't played in a match this big. This is probably the biggest game a lot of our boys have ever played in," Ellis said. "The intensity will probably be something we haven't encountered before which is great. I suppose we will just have to find that out there. I don't know if you can buy too much into what has happened in previous years. We have played them a lot but this is going to be completely different again."
The All Blacks will be trying to blank out what happened in Brisbane seven weeks ago, yet learn their lessons - notably a slow start and lack of concentration in the first half that allowed the Wallabies gain an unassailable lead and land the Tri-Nations title.
"We are trying to focus on us and what we want to achieve. We can learn from it [Brisbane], we know how physical they came out and played. They really took it to us and they were really able to play off that. So there's a bit of motivation there. But there are other things that are pretty obvious motivating us more."
Ellis believes the All Blacks are in a good head space despite the obvious distractions with injuries and the battle to get ready after a physical quarter-final win over Argentina. "To tell you the truth we have toned it down a little bit. We are all about building for the week. We try to stay relaxed early in the week and build it up slowly. We don't want to play this game on Thursday or Friday, we want to play it on Sunday. So we are just building nicely. We are just sharpening. It's about more clarity and staying fresh."
Ellis also likes the way the World Cup has played out with Wales and France first up in the opening semi-final at Eden Park on Saturday. "The game is good at the moment. You are seeing the teams that are playing open rugby and exciting rugby are the teams that are left. I think that's great. Whether or not the refs have got a bearing on that, I don't know. Certainly reffing more to the attacking sides and therefore the game is able to flow a bit more."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September