Teamwork key to handling rush defence

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Lynn McConnell     20 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Flanker Jerome Kaino said the Lions system was awesome and not something struck very often in Super Rugby and the Lions didn't tend to miss their tackles when using the system.
It wouldn't be down to first five-eighths Beauden Barrett alone in dealing with the ploy.

"We've got a lot of key drivers in our team that like to see opportunities and we'd like to think it doesn't just fall on one person's shoulders, everyone else takes responsibility on seeing the pictures and executing," he said.

Kaino said he had been a little sore after the Samoan game but enjoyed the time he got on the field and after missing out for several weeks it had been good to get some minutes.

As the only All Black still playing who appeared against the 2005 Lions, he played for Auckland, he said his memory was more about the off-field reaction and climate and the way the whole country got behind the tour. The Lions fans had added to the whole picture.

"It was a great time to be in New Zealand at that time and there is a similar feeling this time around," he said.

The possibility of being able to run out at the weekend, if selected, was exciting, he said.

Having so many Lions fans in the crowd would not be an issue for the side, it was something they were used to overseas and it didn't bother them, he said.

Brodie Retallick said the week was about focusing on what they were going to do to deal with the Lions line speed and their attack.

"We're working on building intensity throughout the week and taking it to them on Saturday night," he said.

"There's a lot of anticipation about this first Test and the series. We've got huge respect for what the Lions are and what they're bringing. They play the game slightly different to an Australian or South African team but that's what rugby is all about, having the ability to overcome an opposition with different tactics," he said.

Kaino said, "We have a game that we want to play and we'll try and play that as well as we can."

Retallick said the All Blacks were going to have to be better than they had been before, they were aware of that, and they knew the quality of the Lions side and their pedigree and the abilities and skill levels of their players.

"For that's exciting because we challenge ourselves against of the best players and teams in the world. I can't describe what it's going to be like on Saturday night but I know it's going to be pretty intense and there's going to be a lot of pressure.

"With the Lions fans out here and the All Blacks supporters, there's going to be a great feeling within the stadium and we'll just be looking to go out there and perform and play the way the All Blacks like to play," he said.

While there has been much talk about the battle in the tight forwards and the set-piece, Kaino said the contest in the loose was significant as well. In the last couple of years the northern hemisphere had made an impact in that department. Flanker Sean O'Brien was huge at the weekend against the Maori with his ability to slow the ball down but had shown his ability when chasing down Richie Mo'unga in the Crusaders game to stop a try. Added to that was the form of flanker Peter O'Mahony and No.8 Taulupe Faletau.

"Individually I think they are up there with some of the best but just seeing the combinations and how they have complemented each other the last couple of weeks has been huge so they're definitely a threat for us this week," he said.