All Blacks expect preparation time will boost Wallabies

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Lynn McConnell     03 Aug 2017     Getty Images

Kaino said at the completion of the All Blacks' two-day camp in Christchurch on Thursday that the All Blacks always enjoyed the time they were able to spend in preparation and the Australians would be the same. Their lack of involvement in the Investec Super Rugby play-offs, apart from the one appearance by the Brumbies, meant they had two weeks head start on their New Zealand and South African rivals.

"That's gold for us [whenever preparation time is available] and if we put ourselves in their shoes it would be awesome to be able to get that preparation and build-up.

"They know their next game is going to be against us so their focus will be on how they can get things together, get combinations together, to be able to play us well," he said.

But the All Blacks were also conscious that they needed to get their game back to where they wanted it to be as soon as possible.

Kaino said there was a desire to lift from their performances in the British & Irish Lions series.

"There were times when we weren't our normal selves and we didn't meet our standards and there is definitely a huge drive for us to get our game back to where it used to be and where it should be," he said.

Fullback Ben Smith said he was going to be available for the first two Tests against Australia and then he was going to take his sabbatical and the opportunity it provided to freshen up 'mentally and physically' to be right for next season while also doing some things which would help him in the future.

He had some family trips planned and then was looking forward to having the best possible pre-season build-up to the 2018 season.

Smith said he was aware that there was a chance someone could put the pressure on to claim his place but the beauty of the All Blacks was that the best players played.

"I've just got to back myself that with that time I want to be really humming coming into next year and I felt that was my best way to really push for the next couple of years," he said.

Having the two Tests against Australia, if he was selected, was exciting knowing there was a break to follow. But at the same time he hadn't played a lot of rugby lately and that was something he may have taken for granted in the past.

"It just showed me at times how lucky we are to get out and do something we love," he said.

Kaino said he had the sabbatical concept included in his contract but it was a case of weighing up whether it would be helpful in the longer term in his career.

He had thought about it but wondered if it might be detrimental to his career and where he was at in the game. He decided not to take it up.

"The more rugby I play the better I feel I get," he said.

Another factor was injuries he had suffered in the last few years which had involved time out of the game and that had been similar to taking a sabbatical. It had freshened him up and when he came back he didn't feel he needed a break.

Kaino said he was taking his career on a campaign-by-campaign basis and all players knew when they needed to call it quits and he was hopeful that when that time came he would be able to leave on his own terms. But for the moment his body was feeling good.

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