RUGBY UNION: Israel Folau has called on his teammates to ignore the hype as the NSW Waratahs fight to save Australian Super Rugby teams from a humiliating whitewash at the hands of their New Zealand rivals in 2017.
Australia's five Super Rugby sides have yet to beat a Kiwi opponent in 15 matches this season and the Waratahs' clash against the Blues on Saturday night looms as one of the few remaining chances to stop the rot.
Folau said it would be "awesome" to finally end the trans-Tasman hoodoo but warned the Tahs can't afford to be distracted by the "background noise" if they are to register a win.
"Most guys don't worry too much about that," he said.
"It's all noise in the background that us as a team can't control really so there's no point of really worrying about.
"We just go about our own business and work hard and go out there and just leave everything out there.
"It's the same as every other week really. It's all the hype that's around us and if guys read into that, you can really get caught up in stuff and it can affect your preparation."
The Waratahs-Blues showdown at Allianz Stadium is one of 10 trans-Tasman matches remaining before the finals but it is one of only four fixtures in which the Australian side will enjoy the home-ground advantage.
The Force are still to host the Highlanders and defending champions Hurricanes in Perth, while the Rebels will be home to the undefeated Crusaders in round 14, but the prospect of an Australian triumph in any of those matches appears remote.
Add to that no Australian outfit has won in New Zealand since the Waratahs toppled the Hurricanes in Wellington two years ago, and the possibility of a 25-0 trans-Tasman drubbing in 2017 is a genuine chance, unless the Waratahs can conjure a victory over the Blues.
The Aucklanders are currently last in the New Zealand conference despite downing Australian leaders the Brumbies 18-12 on Saturday night in Canberra.
Despite the Australian teams' continued struggles against New Zealand oppostion, Folau rejected former Wallaby Rod Kafer's recent claim that Australian teams are developing an inferiority complex.
"We're not thinking how much better the New Zealand teams are compared to the Aussie teams," he said.
"The focus is always on us as a team and we're just looking to improve and all those other things will fall into place."
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