Henry eager to reclaim high ground for All Blacks

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The Independent Online

Australia coach Eddie Jones may have branded New Zealand cheats but All Blacks coach Graham Henry has been nothing but complimentary to the Wallabies.

Australia coach Eddie Jones may have branded New Zealand cheats but All Blacks coach Graham Henry has been nothing but complimentary to the Wallabies.

Indeed the former Wales boss has branded the All Blacks' Antipodean rivals "the best team in the world" ahead of tomorrow's Bledisloe Cup showdown.

Jones had been in Wellington only a matter of minutes on Thursday when he launched into the tactics Jono Gibbes, Marty Holah and Keith Robinson employed around the ruck, branding them illegal.

He also claimed they had been the cause of many of the off-the-ball incidents in the matches between the All Blacks and England last month.

Henry today refused to "lower himself" to Jones' level and instead chose to praise the Wallabies.

"I think we are playing against the best team in the world - France might question that - but just watching the games over the last few weeks I thought the Australians' performance against the English was pretty special," said Henry.

"It's going to be a special side who will beat them.

I think they are right up there at the moment.

" Of concern to Henry is the likely absence of lock Robinson, who is carrying a knee injury but joined Richie McCaw on the sidelines because of a strained back.

Simon Maling is poised to step into the starting XV.

A poor lineout was a feature in last year's World Cup semi-final defeat to the Aussies, but All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga said the team had not been dwelling on past mistakes.

"We have learned the lessons from the last game and hopefully we have fixed those so they don't happen again tomorrow night," he said.

"This (Bledisloe) cup is very important.

We have tried hard for a while to get it and now we have got it we don't want to give it back.

"It means a lot to us and we will be doing everything we can to retain it.

" The match, the 101st Bledisloe Cup match, throws up some intriguing battles, none more so than at inside centre where rising stars Daniel Carter, 22, and Matt Giteau, 21, will lock horns.

It will be a case of the tried and tested versus untested as each will be their team's first-choice goalkickers with Carter having nailed 18 of his 20 attempts for the All Blacks this year.

Giteau, meanwhile, takes over kicking duties from the injured Joe Roff for the first time for the Australians.

Elsewhere, the tactical kicking of Stephen Larkham and Carlos Spencer will be crucial, especially if conditions are wet, while out wide Joe Rokocoko and Clyde Rathbone are wings in try-scoring form.

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