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All Blacks prepare for intense third Test

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Lynn McConnell     04 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Lock Brodie Retallick said losing wasn't something that had happened too often in his All Blacks career but Saturday had been frustrating because they hadn't got what they were trying to do right.

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He said there was some pressure within the All Blacks knowing that it was do-or-die.

The series was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play and beat the Lions. The history of the contests wasn't going to help them now it was what the team were going to do to create their own history that mattered.

The physicality and intensity of the two Tests had been high, especially from the Lions in the second Test.

"I think they were a lot more physical and confrontational than they were in week one. We need to sort that out and make sure we're going back at it this Saturday because we can't let it happen again," he said.

Halfback Aaron Smith said, "It's what you play for these big games. I could play today, I'm ready to go but it's like they say, about building the whole week. These are the ones you remember.

"It's going to be a long week in preparation but it will be all worth it if we do those little things right and build and prepare and get the processes right to be able to go out there and play our brand of footy and if it's enough it's enough."

Smith said it was obvious his Highlanders team-mate centre Malakai Fekitoa was enjoying getting the call-up and at the gym in the morning he had provided some energy for the group.

He had been good on defence for the Highlanders and a ball carrier and he had been going well all year. He was a physical player, very confrontational and he went hard at everything and did his job well.
Having been called in after not being wanted originally he possibly had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, a no-fear attitude, Smith said.

While Lions coach Warren Gatland said the All Blacks' attack hadn't really stressed them in the series so far, Smith said that may have been the case in Wellington but he was excited about what the team could do this week in Saturday's series decider.

The All Blacks hadn't reacted well to the Lions closing up tight space.

"He can say all those things he wants, but we're just really focused on what we're going to do this week. We showed glimpses of what we can do on week one and we need to get back to that," he said.

Conditions in Wellington had suited the Lions' bid to make the game a struggle at the ruck and the All Blacks lacked some assertiveness in coping with that.

"We didn't help ourselves and attack where they weren't. That's something we're going to fix this week," he said.

Video evidence watched since the game had shown there was a lot more space available to them than they realised and they hadn't adapted to that in the way they usually did.

"We've learnt a lot from this game. I've been in a few meetings and looked at a few clips and there's opportunities there. Those opportunities will present themselves this Saturday and we've got to be good enough to see them and take them," he said.

For a long period of the game Smith felt the All Blacks with their seven forwards for 55 minutes had done enough to win the game but they made two critical errors and the Lions had been good enough to take advantage of them.

"I just want to get to this week to be honest, and let's get into it," he said.