18 Aug 2012

Ma'a Nonu looking to put in flawless defensive performance

5:45 pm on 18 August 2012

The All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu has set himself the goal of not missing a single tackle in today's Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.

Nonu will start at centre with Sonny Bill Williams at second five, and while the pair form a formidable combination on attack, it's defence where the injured Conrad Smith's absence could be felt the most.

Nonu says he's been tasked with taking on Smith's duties as the backline's defensive general.

The test will be Nonu's first of the season after being rested during the Ireland series.

Meanwhile, the war of words is continuing ahead of the Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks' coach Steve Hansen dubious of bragging from the Wallaby's camp that Australia is set to dominate New Zealand up front.

Hansen has already questioned Australia's selection for the Sydney test, drawing attention to the omission of Quade Cooper, and he seems equally unimpressed by the way the Wallabies are talking up their forwards.

The Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has described Hansen as a good fisherman, but has refused to take the bait.

Hansen and Deans share a tense relationship following a reported falling out, but the Wallabies coach made it clear he wasn't going to bite back.

Deans has stressed the importance of opening the three-match Bledisloe campaign with a win at home ahead of next week's return fixture at Eden Park and says the Wallabies know what they need to do.

Taking a more modest approach is the Wallaby half back, Will Genia, who acknowledges winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 is a tall order for Australia.