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New Zealand's desire high to retain Bledisloe Cup

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Lynn McConnell     12 Aug 2014     Getty Images

Hooker Keven Mealamu, one of the few players in the side to know what it is like when the All Blacks have been without the symbol of trans-Tasman rivalry, said the motivation to keep the Cup was just as high as for the Australians wanting to win it.

While there were many players in the All Blacks team who did not know life without the Bledisloe Cup, they had grown up during the time when Australia held it, and they were well aware of what the Cup means in the rugby relationship.

"We can understand where their [Australia's] hunger will be this year. But we're really looking forward to getting to Sydney and getting our show back on the road as well," he said.

Australians were smart in the way they played rugby and any Test match against them that he had played in had been at a high tempo with good skills involved, he said.

While New Zealand would go into the game without Tony Woodcock there was good depth with Wyatt Crockett, who was now fit to play, and Ben Franks as well.

It would be important to gain dominance up front to set up the chance for a win, but that never changed whoever the team was playing, he said.

"There's a real emphasis on making sure we nail our set piece really well. We can launch off that and really set our backs alight," he said.

Mealamu said it was important for New Zealand not to get too hyped up too soon and to 'stay in the now'. That meant concentrating on preparing well.

The preparation was no different to any Test the side might play but he admitted there was an excitement about going over to Sydney to open the Rugby Championship.

While there was some residual disappointment for the Crusaders players after their loss in the Sydney Super Rugby final, they were gearing up to return for the All Blacks.

The side was fresher than when starting the June campaign against England, he said.

Lock Brodie Retallick said the challenge he felt in preparing was to reach the level New Zealand achieved in their first half against England in the final Test of that series.

"It took us a while to get started, especially in that first Test, with our structures on the field and we've talked about our need to get back to where we were in the third Test as quick as we can," he said.

"We can't take one or two games to get into the Rugby Championship and to get back to that level."

Retallick said the desire to keep the Bledisloe Cup was always there because it was only second to the World Cup for the All Blacks and while it might have been 11 years since the Australians held it, with each year that went by, their hunger to retain it would be greater.

He added that he thought the games would be more free-flowing than the England series and because the Australian back three liked to run with the ball, New Zealand's kicking game would have to be 'on song' while the kick-chase game would need to be accurate.