Test will show who has improved the most - Foster

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Lynn McConnell     19 Oct 2016     Getty Images

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said Australia's efforts against South Africa and Argentina showed they had taken a lot on board since the first two Tests and while they looked to have a clearer understanding of what they were trying to do, so too had the All Blacks.


"I think we've definitely stepped up a little since August and there's two improved teams so we'll see who's improved the most," he said.

The management were treating the Test as an extension of the Rugby Championship and for that reason it involved the existing squad for what would be a 'massive' Test, Foster said.

"It's a game that we're really, really excited about. We've got a chance to create a bit of history so I guess the preparation has got to reflect the importance of that. So this week is purely about this week, not about the future," he said.

The tilt at history would be discussed. The Australians had mentioned it and there was little point denying that the All Blacks were sitting on a share of the world record at 17.

Foster said he wasn't sure what Wallabies coach Michael Cheika meant when he said he thought the All Blacks felt they were going to do it easy in the Test.

"All I know is that it is Australia and it means a lot to us," he said.
The side had recovered well from their week off and the travel they had undertaken. Their energy levels were up and there was a mental freshness and a realisation of the work that had to be done.

Foster said he was happy with the form first five-eighths Aaron Cruden showed when playing half a game for Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup after coming back from injury.

"I thought he went really good and he's come through that game pretty well," he said.

Flanker Sam Cane was probably a step behind Cruden in not having a game but he had been training hard and had a good running week last week.

Talk of players like Israel Dagg and Cruden being the target of overseas clubs was a fact of life, it had always been there and was a regular occurrence and it always would be.

"We understand players have decisions to make, our job is to let them know where they sit in our camp to make sure we are really clear with them about their role and let them make their call.

"We try not to not talk about it because then it does become the elephant in the room so there are things out there but really nothing's new," he said.

Olympic single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale spent Tuesday with the team before flying out to the United States in the evening and having him with the team was good for them, he said.