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All Blacks keen to improve Sydney record

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Lynn McConnell     16 Aug 2016     Getty Images

All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith said having Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell in the back three would be a big factor for the side.

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"They are a big part of the Australian team. They've shown that coming back into the Australian team they are ready to go and obviously pretty hungry so for us, we're going to have to match that and make sure that our attitude is right.

"We know the challenge we are up against with a good Aussie team, it's an exciting challenge," he said.

Smith said Sydney was a tough place to play, and the All Blacks didn't have the greatest record there, and the Bledisloe Cup meant a lot to both teams which would make this weekend's encounter a good one.

"Every year is different and I think this year is going to be really competitive and whoever turns up on Saturday with the right attitude is going to go a long way towards doing the business and getting that Cup.

"I know Australia are going to come out and really want to challenge for that. We know the challenge we are up against this weekend," he said.

Wherever Israel Folau was played, at fullback or centre, he was dangerous and the All Blacks would be keen to shut down his time and space.
"He's obviously a great player and a massive strength to the Aussie team so we're going to have to make sure wherever he plays that we're limiting his chances but good players like that always influence a game," he said.

Lock Sam Whitelock said while there were no players in the New Zealand team now who had been part of a side that lost the Bledisloe Cup, he had played with several players who had lost it and it had always been interesting hearing their thoughts about those games.

They had reinforced the message that preparation during the week before the game was important.

"Obviously that is critical any time you play but it is a big game this week so nailing your 'prep' was one of the main things that came out," he said.

While the pack had lost players like Richie McCaw, Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu, there were still players in the side with plenty of experience, like Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read and it was always good to 'bounce off their vibe' and talk to them about their experiences and how they adapted and changed their games around some of the big clashes.

Whitelock said he was looking forward to having a match to aim for in the build-up rather than the ongoing training that had been occurring since the end of the Super Rugby competition.