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Controlled approach key for All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     05 Jul 2017     Getty Images

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said on Tuesday the beauty of a series decider was that it was a game where everyone was trying to impose themselves physically and it was a case of being smart enough to control that while being effective.

"That's something we work hard on, what we want to do, and we've just got to make sure that we're totally under control but at the same time we have to make sure we bring the physicality and the two Tests have been quite noticeable; one is that we won the battle and two is that they won the battle.

"We've lost before so it's not as if it's foreign territory. The goal has always been to play as well as we can. We didn't and we've highlighted some areas we'll go and work on them," he said.

There had been some interesting situations arise during the series in the All Blacks' midfield and it showed that it was necessary to prepare a group of four or five players at all stages.

They had been doing and Ngani Laumape's performance on debut in Wellington proved that, Foster said.

Laumape had been working hard when he wasn't in the 23 and this week there were a number of guys ready to go.

"What a tough way to start your Test career and coming in and having to do your role and a little bit of someone else's. I think in those circumstances he did really well. Whilst he's probably disappointed with the result he should be pretty proud of what he did out there. He was still able to express himself and do what he likes doing," he said.

Looking at the ordering off of Sonny Bill Williams, Foster said: "We were dealt a set of circumstances that we haven't had to deal with for a long, long time – 50 years – we take a lot of pride that we prepare for everything and whilst we've talked about that sort of scenario it certainly impacted on us.

"It changed the way that we operated and we didn't operate with the same freedom that we normally like to. In saying that we're immensely proud of the effort.

"With 20 minutes to go we were leading 18-9 and doing things pretty well but to the credit of the Lions they finished over the top of us and they kept playing and stretching us and did that well.

"I'm sure they're pretty comfortable with the result and it's not all gloom and doom for us. We've had a loss and like I said we've been there before, it's one-all in the series and that's pretty exciting this week," he said.

Foster said referee Roman Poite was an experienced referee and had been involved throughout the series and witnessing what had been happening and had had a pretty good preparation for the Test. He didn't think there would be a lot of difference from what had gone earlier in the series.

New Zealand had applauded the idea that the three officials would work together during the series so he was sure Poite had learned a lot from the last two Tests and it was up to the All Blacks to find out what that means for them when play starts on Saturday.

It had been a disrupted series for Beauden Barrett in not playing for long periods of the games at first five-eighths and like all the players it was an important series for them and he wanted to make a mark in it.

"I'm sure he'll do that but he's professional enough to know that it's not about him, it's about him doing his role in this group and he's been leading this group magnificently. He showed a lot of composure and class the way he went about things last week, I thought, in the circumstances.

"It didn't probably suit his style and he got us into a really nice position. I don't know the last time he's had 10 shots at goal from penalties. We had so many penalties coming our way that sort of changed the way we played too because we weren't able to get beyond the first couple of rucks.

"We've done some really good stuff the last two weeks and it's pretty clear and obvious that there's more in us so we've got to focus on that.

"We've got to make sure in all the circumstances whether it's wet, and cold, or windy, or whatever, it is that we are still able to express ourselves. We've proven that we can get some parity and some front foot ball and we've got to make sure we're smart in using that," he said.

Foster felt the All Blacks were guilty of narrowing their vision when reduced to 14 men and that wasn't something that was natural to them.

"For 45 minutes that mode was operating fairly well for us but when we needed to see things a bit differently we probably took too long to do that."