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All Blacks get the message after earthquake

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Lynn McConnell     17 Nov 2016     Getty Images

Flanker Sam Cane said the team had put a message of support on Facebook to those affected by the Kaikoura earthquake and one of the first responses had told them to just get out and beat Ireland because that would make people feel better.

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"If you hear something like that you think, 'Yeah, we'll try and play our little part in making things a little bit easier back home'." And we'll do our best to make sure we do that," Cane said.

Cane said if there was a Test match to be involved in during 2016 it was this weekend's game with Ireland.

And fullback Ben Smith said: "The bigger the challenge the more you want to be part of it. And this is a pretty big challenge, Ireland in Ireland and the way their supporters get behind them. It is a good chance to get out there and put a good performance on the park."

There was no comparison to the preparation for the Chicago Test a fortnight ago. There had been quite a bit going on in Chicago but the side was a little out of Dublin and with training close by it was good for the side's preparation.

Cane said that while the side felt they had prepared well in Chicago, it hadn't turned out that way.
"You try and make each Test week's preparation as similar as possible, and you do it as genuinely as possible, but sometimes you have got to admit, for whatever reason, so many different things go on that you don't quite always get it right and I think in Chicago it reflected in the performance that obviously we didn't get some things right during the week.

"Our attitude wasn't really where we expected it to be. We know how big this challenge is so what comes with that is a real edge. We're pretty anxious to make sure we do everything we can to get it right," he said.

Smith said there was more than one area the team didn't get right and that had been compounded by the attitude Ireland brought to the game.

Both players agreed the last time they had felt the type of edge involved with this weekend's game was before the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland last year.

Then it had been a case of, 'If we seriously don't go out there and play to the best of our ability we'll be on the losing end' and that was the same as this week as well, Cane said.

What made the loss to Ireland disappointing was the knowledge they hadn't played to the best of their ability. They had been placed under pressure by Ireland but they hadn't been able to overcome that through their skills. They had looked at that and while there would be times when it happened in Dublin, they wanted to be better able to cope, Cane said.
If they played the best that they could, and still lost, then they had to take it on the chin.

They were also aware of the need to make better starts than had been achieved in their last two games against Ireland, in Chicago and back in 2013 when they had come from behind to win.

Preventing Ireland getting the jump on them like they had in those games would help the All Blacks' chances.

Having both locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock back would be a boost because they were a combination who complemented each other so well and made massive contributions with the big engines they brought to the side.

Captain Kieran Read's response to his first loss as captain was reflected in his driving the preparation to be better among the side.

"He's led a lot of the way we go about our week," Smith said.