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Scrum changes get nod from All Blacks

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Sportal.co.nz     16 Aug 2013     Getty Images

Coles was among the first to test the International Rugby Board's revised scrum engagement laws in a first class match in the southern hemisphere, scoring a try in Wellington's 55-16 demolition of Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup.

The six-Test All Black, who is working back to full fitness after suffering a calf injury, found the results were positive and believed the All Blacks would be able to use the "crouch, bind, set" sequence to their advantage at ANZ Stadium.

"They've been working hard during the week with [scrum coach] Mike Cron and I think they'll adapt pretty well," said the 26-year-old.

"If they get that right, they'll have a good launching pad for the backs to work off."

Coles emerged unscathed after playing the 50 minutes requested by All Blacks selectors. During that time he was delighted to find there was less 'mucking around' with collapsed scrums and resets.

However, when the less prepared front row replacements entered the fray it became apparent that it would take a while longer for everyone to get up to speed.

The All Blacks used a warm-up against Canterbury and Wellington to familiarise themselves with the new laws, designed to reduce the risk of injury, while the Wallabies have done the same in training camps over the last 12 days.

Reports suggest both packs are coping but some 'teething problems' are expected.

Meanwhile, unwanted All Black Victor Vito echoed Coles' sentiments but did not agree with predictions that the No 8 will enjoy freedom to attack while flankers are bound to the scrum for longer.

"I think it's the opposite actually," Vito said. "We can't just detach and take the ball any more - we have to give our full compliment to the scrum.

"If anything, it's a full eight-man shunt now, not just the tight five pushing and the loosies doing their thing at the back."

While Coles is certain to return the All Blacks fold for the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington, Vito is preparing for a 'marathon' with Wellington after being sent to work on his physicality, among other things, in the ITM Cup.

However, a last-minute hamstring injury to flanker Liam Messam, who is expected to be out for up to four weeks, may see him earn a re-call sooner than expected.

After replacing injured play-maker Dan Carter with Aaron Cruden earlier in the week, Hansen has been forced to thrust 22-year-old Steven Luatua into the starting lineup after playing less than 10 minutes at Test level.

Sam Cane has been included on the bench but depending on how Luatua performs, Vito's versatility and 22 Tests worth of experience may see him included in coming weeks.