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'Nice nervousness' in All Blacks' build-up

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Lynn McConnell     16 Nov 2016     Getty Images

While the All Blacks had left their debrief on the 29-40 loss suffered in Chicago until this week, rather than focus on it ahead of their game against Italy, they were well into the process of getting their intended game back on track.

"We know that if we don't front up and play to the best of our ability it's going to be a long night. To be honest it's a good feeling, it's a nice edge and it forces us to dig a little bit deeper and make sure we prepare to the degree that we always take a lot of pride in doing and probably didn't do that good a job of in Chicago," he said.

Foster said lock Sam Whitelock came through Tuesday's training well and had stood up to the load that was put on him. It was a case of seeing how he responded to that overnight and that would determine the next step in his recovery process. If he was ok he would go at full pressure at Thursday's training.

"These are great weeks; there's an edge in the air, we love preparing for big Test matches. Coming to Dublin and preparing to play Ireland here is always pretty special for us. It's a fantastic stadium, the supporters are amazing and I guess what happened in Chicago has added a little more seasoning to it," he said.


Part of New Zealand's preparation would centre on their start. They couldn't keep giving Ireland 25-point head starts, Foster said.

Ireland were a team that knew their game really well, and Foster said in spite of the influence of New Zealand coaches Joe Schmidt with Ireland and Pat Lam with Connaught there was still a distinctive Irish style of play based on big forwards, line speed in defence and a kicking game.

But it was the subtleties that teams brought to their game that were significant, he said.


"Everyone prepares a plan but it is often what the opposition allow you to play that determines where that plan goes in the 80 minutes. If you find parts of the defence a bit softer than you expected then you change your plan and you go there.

"They'll have some plays, we'll have some plays and then we'll figure out if we get the results we wanted and if we do then we will probably end up playing that part of the game a lot more than we expected to," he said.

Foster said the All Blacks in Chicago were on the back of making a lot of defensive tackles and not executing their set piece the way they wanted to.

"So we didn't get a lot of opportunity to play at Ireland and they were smart enough, and good enough, to get a good lead-on so that put us under a bit of pressure and I think there was a while there just before half-time we probably struggled to figure that out.

"But in that third quarter we came back strong and we showed that we can solve problems on the park and can do some good things and got ourselves into a position, again, that was probably a position that if we had carried on doing that we would probably have given ourselves a chance. We weren't good enough at the end.

"That game we learnt a lot of lessons, we struggled at some points but then when we got it right we looked pretty good," he said.