Ryan Cross is preparing for the biggest game of his life when he faces the All Blacks in the absence of injured Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock.
Mortlock, try-scorer against the Springboks last week, was ruled out with concussion, giving Cross his first Test start after three appearances from the bench. The Western Force No 13 will line-up against fellow rookie Richard Kahui, who will start for the Blacks for the second time.
Cross, an ex-Sydney Roosters rugby league player, said the Bledisloe Cup would dwarf the three finals he’s played in before in that format of the game.
“It is bigger because you’re playing for your country,” Cross told the media. “Playing for your club side in a grand final is a bit different, but playing for your country against New Zealand is definitely the biggest game in my career. Competing against the All Blacks – it can’t get any bigger than that.
“I’m also not so much a ‘leaguie’ as everyone thinks, because I did play both codes growing up. I grew up watching All Black Tests, and just can’t wait to play against them.”
Cross believes his partnership with Force team-mate Matt Giteau will be an advantage when the pressure is on.
“Even when I was coming on during those earlier Tests, he [Giteau] was willing to give me the ball,” Cross said. “That’s a big plus for me. If he sees me there, he’ll give it to me.
“That’s the main reason I went across to the Force, knowing that he was there, and would be a long-term player in Test rugby. I was hoping a combination would be created, and if I made the step to the Wallabies, it would make it a bit easier.”