It's all black magic at Eden Park and other talking points ahead of New Zealand v Wallabies

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The Wallabies face another daunting task when they take on the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday morning (11:35 UAE time).

After last week’s comprehensive win in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, Steve Hansen’s side are on the brink of sealing their 16th successive Bledisloe Cup against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Here, we take a look at the main talking points going into the fixture.

Black magic at Eden Park

The All Blacks are on a 41-match unbeaten run at the Auckland venue since being beaten there by France in 1994.

In fact, their opponents for this weekend, Australia, haven’t won anywhere in New Zealand since Dunedin in 2001 and last tasted victory at Eden Park 32 years ago with a 22-9 result in 1986.

Since then they have lost 17 Tests to New Zealand in Auckland.

At Eden Park, the All Blacks are even more dominant over the Wallabies with an 85 per cent success rate, having won 23 of 27 Tests.

It doesn’t look like it will get any better either for Michael Chieka’s side, who look low on confidence.

Franks 100 not out

Last week it was Sam Whitelock celebrating his 100th cap, now it’s Owen Franks’ turn to crack three figures.

The tight-head prop is set to become the ninth All Black to play at least 100 tests, and the third front row player after hooker Keven Mealamu (132) and prop Tony Woodcock (118).

The Motueka native, who turns 31 in December, spent almost a year on the sidelines with an Achilles injury, but is back to his immaculate best after a successful Super 15 campaign with the Crusaders.

Franks may still be without an international try, but his unselfish work in the engine room has shaped him into one of the most influential players in world rugby.

Return of Jordie Barrett

The 21-year-old’s form was off colour during the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby campaign this season, most notably in the semi-final defeat to Crusaders.

With Rieko Ioane injured, Hansen has opted to start the youngest Barrett brother at full-back after omitting him from the 23 last week.

Barrett needs to prove he deserves a regular starting spot, given many believe an in-form Nehe Milner-Skudder should have been named in the starting team ahead of him for this fixture.

At 6-foot-4, the New Plymouth man possesses gas, power, good defence and reliability under the high ball, and has the chance to prove his doubters wrong again on home soil.

Cheika under pressure

An All Blacks win in Auckland on Saturday will seal the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th successive year and may shorten Cheika’s tenure as Wallabies coach.

His record of 25 wins from 49 tests – a 51 per cent record – is only worse than Ewen McKenzie’s 50 per cent win ratio for Wallabies coaches.

Against the All Blacks, Cheika’s side have won twice in 10 matches, one in seven against England and one in five against Ireland.

To make matters worse, a defeat in Auckland will mean six defeats for the Wallabies in the last seven Tests.

However, another lost Bledisloe Cup series is only going to add more pressure to his job. The real question remains whether he will still be in charge come next year’s Rugby World Cup?

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