New Zealand coach Mike Hesson Wednesday played down the hype surrounding the explosive World Cup showdown between the co-hosts, saying it will be treated as just another round-robin encounter.
But it will be easier said than done for both teams as come Saturday the intensity on and off the field will be high at a packed-out Eden Park crammed to its 40,000 capacity.
New Zealand are perched at the top of Pool A with three wins from as many games while Australia have one win in two matches, with their second against Bangladesh abandoned due to rain in Brisbane last weekend.
The team which wins Saturday’s game will be in pole position to finish on top of the group and face a relatively easier opponent in the quarter-finals, a prospect which adds another twist to Saturday’s tussle.
But Hesson doesn’t buy into the hype.
“Just another one of the round robin games and obviously it’s going to be a good one,” said Hesson after a Black Caps training session held under the warm Auckland sun.
“We know it’s going to be a great contest, we haven’t played Australia a lot in recent times but it’s an important game for us and important for the group so we will treat it as the other ones.”
Hesson, however, admitted it will be a pressure occasion.
“The pressure is playing a side ranked No 1 and who have won four World Cups. They’re a good side. There’s two good sides playing pretty well at the moment so I don’t think (favouritism) really adds a lot to it.”
Hesson refused to accept the Australia game will be first “real” test for Black Caps.
“We probably don’t look at it quite that way. Sri Lanka was a huge test for us, the England game as well,” said Hesson of the first two games his team played in the World Cup.