PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Double New Zealand international Matthew Ridge has provided the Wallabies and Kangaroos with some dressing room wall motivation before they take on their Kiwi counterparts this weekend.
Ridge has unashamedly questioned the pride of Australia's rugby codes by labelling the Kangaroos as too tired and the Wallabies as past their best.
Ridge is predicting a "blackwash" for New Zealand in Sydney's mega-weekend of football, which starts tomorrow night with the trans-Tasman rugby league test, followed by the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations rugby on Saturday night.
Comments by Ridge, who played for Manly and the Auckland Warriors, captained the New Zealand league team and also played for the All Blacks, has raised the stakes in the Australia v NZ footy war.
He can't see the Wallabies lifting their game sufficiently to topple the red-hot All Blacks because they "are a bit long in the tooth."
Meanwhile, "The Kangaroos look tired -- a couple of their guys look weary," Ridge said from Auckland.
Ridge felt Australia's league captain Andrew Johns needed a break from the game.
"He looks tired to me. It has been a tough few weeks for the NRL players and now they have to back up after State of Origin," Ridge said.
"Joey needs a break. It is difficult remaining motivated for guys like Johns. He has done it all.
"I'm not bagging them in any way, but I do think the Kiwis are a big chance of winning."
Despite Ridge's optimism, Australia will start the rugby league Test as $1.22 favourites, according to SportsTAB, with New Zealand $3.80 outsiders.
Ridge believed the Wallabies were an ageing team.
"They have experience and a lot of test caps but nothing can beat youth and enthusiasm. It's a young man's game... and the All Blacks are playing well," Ridge told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Australia's SportsTAB have the All Blacks as firm $1.36 favourites with Eddie Jones' Wallabies at $2.90.