All Blacks prepare for different challenge

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Lynn McConnell     06 Sep 2016     Getty Images

Flanker Sam Cane and lock Brodie Retallick said the All Blacks had their feet well and truly on the ground and were not getting ahead of themselves in their quest to regain the Championship title this season.


Cane said the Pumas could well have been coming to Hamilton with two wins over South Africa and not just one, and that was evidence enough of their increased stature in the game.

While the All Blacks knew more about the Argentinians as a result of their increased contact, they still represented a different challenge because they played the game slightly differently, Cane said.

"They have come a long way [since joining the Championship in 2012] and going from Super Rugby to internationals I wasn't quite what they were going to turn up with but obviously under their head coach in the national side they are humming.

"Once they get that ball moving and their off-loads are some of the best in the world," he said.

Retallick said Argentina played it differently in the forwards and liked to hold the ball in the scrum while the All Blacks liked to clear it quickly. It was a case of getting on top of them and avoiding the penalties that could keep them in the game.

Cane said having the week's break after each two games was vital in the Championship, more mentally than physically. But the fitness work continued and he believed in both Super Rugby and international squads the fitness was good as it had ever been and that was reflected in the fitness tests the side undertook.

Cane said he hadn't been paying much attention to rugby during his week off and wasn't aware of comments being made that the All Blacks received preferential treatment from match officials.

He said the All Blacks tried to play by the law and took the view that the less penalties given away the more chance there was of winning.

Both players admitted the niggly approach taken by Australia in the second Bledisloe Cup Test had been surprising.

The All Blacks had expected some physical play by the Wallabies but it was the way the Australians went about it that took them a little by surprise, Cane said.

"In a funny way it is a good thing when you realise the opposition are playing like that because it means they are not really focusing on their footy as much and as long as we worry about playing footy and executing our stuff right then there should be some chances and that was how the game played out in the end," he said.

Retallick said that approach was not something he had experienced against Australia previously and they probably tried it to see if it would take the All Blacks off their game but they saw it as a bit more of a weakness from the Wallabies.

"Obviously there's a line where you've got to stand up as a team and realise we're not just going to stand there and take it, and then there's a point when it diverts you from what you're doing.

"So as an individual you have to be aware of when that is happening to you and when you realise you're being taken away from your team. At times it probably got a little bit the better of us but I think overall we handled it pretty well as a team," he said.