Ewen: Focusing on All Blacks
Ewen McKenzie is setting his focus on the all-conquering All Blacks, as Australia prepare to wrestle back the Super Championship crown from world champions New Zealand.
The Wallabies' coach is feeling upbeat following his country's series victory over France which took their run of successive Test victories to seven.
However, McKenzie knows it will take a run of excellent performances to dislodge the Kiwis as the world's leading union nation when the Rugby Championship starts in August.
Australia open their 2014 account with an international against New Zealand whose victory over England on Saturday made it a record-equalling 17 straight wins.
The All Blacks share this sequence with their own country's run of successes between 1965 and 1969, as well as South Africa who also won 17 in a row during the late 1990s.
And McKenzie is already thinking ahead to the game on August 16 in Sydney where New Zealand will be seeking win number 18.
McKenzie said: "There's no mortgage on these sorts of things. They've obviously dominated for a period of time and they're not going to hand it over.
"We've got to go out there and win it. We've got to get everything right.
"We're going to have to put up with lots of people talking and speculating about our prospects. It won't be coming from us.
"The reality of the task is that you're playing against the No.1 side in the world."
But before hostilities can resume, the players return to their regional sides to complete the Super Rugby season and McKenzie knows this may complicate matters.
He added: "Fitness will be a big part of the equation for both teams.
"We've developed our depth and different types of options. Sam Carter should be back, Joe Tomane will be available, Luke Burgess has come back early and Will Genia is a chance. We're preparing ourselves as best we can.\"