Assured surface in Dunedin a boost for teams

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Lynn McConnell     21 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Should he be selected, as he put it, Retallick will be playing his 50th Test at the weekend and he said the five years since running onto Eden Park for his debut had gone quickly.


Among the changes he'd gone through as a player in that time he said he would like to think he was more game smart and that he had developed as a player from where he was.

He thought the game had got faster and the skill sets were higher.

"Teams string a lot of phases together and with the forwards ability to offload and catch and pass these days I think the speed of the game is probably a bit quicker," he said.

But the knowledge they would play on a dry track on Saturday was an incentive to push for a 'blackwash' over the Welsh.

"We pride ourselves on always finishing strongly and playing until the 80th minute so for us knowing that it's going to be a dry track and we can keep attacking is exciting," he said.

One area that they would be looking for better execution was at the breakdown.

The key for New Zealand in coping with that was being accurate in what they assessed in front of them because it was one area that had probably let them down in the last two Tests, he said.

Retallick said the Welsh sometimes didn't commit to rucks so when the All Blacks went in there was nothing for them to clean out whereas other times the would arrive late and try to kick the ball out and then other times they would pile in to try and slow the ball down by getting over the top of it.
Prop Owen Franks said the Welsh were a physical side, who played at a fast pace and the contest had been enjoyable from a tight five perspective.

"We made some good improvements from the first week, a little step up so we'll focus again this week to see if we can take another step up to improve," he said.

Scrummaging was simple and much of the improvement was based on timing which after coming from different franchises was sorted by the chosen eight working together.

"The more time we spend with each other in training the better we'll get.

"Northern hemisphere teams are always a little bit different and can sometimes be a little bit awkward but we've just got to adapt quickly," he said.

One of their tactics was on their own ball to try and retain the ball in the scrum in an attempt to win a penalty and they also tried to be disruptive and to deny the All Blacks clean ball.

"So far we've been getting that [clean ball] to the backs," he said.

Tryless after 80 Tests, Franks said he couldn't care less as it would be scrummaging that he was judged on.

"It would be cool to get a try but it's not something that keeps me up at night," he said.

Franks said in the absence of his brother Ben from the side this year he was doing much of his contact training with new squad member Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

"He takes care of himself well, he's pretty strong and pretty keen as well," he said.

Retallick said Franks deserved a try and it was up to the backs to try and sort something out for him.