All Blacks expecting changed approach from Italy

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Lynn McConnell     11 Nov 2016     Getty Images

First five-eighths Aaron Cruden, who returns to the starting spot in the side, said Italy were a side who appeared to be making changes beyond concentrating on their traditional forward strength and were looking to their younger backs to throw the ball around.


"For us, defensively, we need to be aware of that and try and shut it down at the source first then bring some line speed to limit their opportunities out wide," he said.

Cruden said he was looking forward to the chance to start in a stadium he had played in before and had enjoyed, and to have a good crack at the Italian side.

He said he didn't feel any specific pressure as a result of last week's loss to Ireland. The season overall had been pretty successful and while last week wasn't the result they were looking for, this week was a chance for those selected to go out and fill the All Blacks jerseys to play the best way they could. And that would be to get things back on track by the way they performed.

Having played so much rugby with skipper Sam Cane, Cruden said he had seen him emerge as a leader from a player who led by example by getting in and doing the hard work to one who had developed a greater understanding of the game and knowledge of when to speak, what to say and what type of message to deliver.
"For him this week is a fantastic opportunity. I'll be right there behind him again and make his job a lot easier as such a young captain that he's going to be. He's really looking forward to that challenge," he said.

Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow said having a game for the Maori All Blacks last week against the United States Eagles had been a help to him, just as it had been last year when attempting to make the World Cup team.

He was able to use the game to achieve his goals of being quick to the rucks and working on his kicking game and was happy with how he went.

Hooker Codie Taylor said it was only his second start for the side and couldn't remember too much about his first. But he was looking forward to the chance against an Italian side that took great pride in its set-piece play.


Italy would see the game as a great opportunity to take on the All Blacks after their loss to Ireland last weekend.

The Italians had a mixed team in terms of experience. Taylor said having played the Italians at the Under-20 World Cup a few years ago he knew they were a good side.

"They played with a lot of energy and brought it to us and they played quite well so we are expecting much of the same this week," he said.

Their No.8, and captain, Sergio Parisse was an experienced man and his opposing hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini had more 80 caps to his name.

Flanker Matt Todd said there had been some extra edge around training in preparation for the game and some more accountability about roles in the game and execution of opportunities. A few of the older heads had been a little grumpier than usual and keeping everyone on their toes.