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Kane Hames in no mood to take prisoners

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Lynn McConnell     15 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Hames took issue with a newspaper story that said he was not a 'renowned scrummager'. Players did a lot of work researching and preparing for their games and he felt journalists should do the same.
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There was no doubt Hames was firmly fixed on the role ahead of him in the physical contest with the All Blacks' traditional rivals and having waited so long, after a lot of injury frustrations, he was relishing his chance.

Hames, 29, who debuted last year against Australia in Sydney, said he had done a lot of work in order to get back into the All Blacks' environment which was something he had always wanted to be part of and he was glad to know that it had all worked out well.

"There's been plenty of changes I had to make in my game, even little shifts probably in the last couple of months in terms of some things around the field, but always working, always training," he said.

He acknowledged the work of Tasman strength and conditioning coach Glen Stewart who had helped him when he had issues with his knee and some imbalances. There were others who had helped him through setbacks and he had been thinking of them lately.

"The culture here [in the All Blacks' camp] is pretty special, they make you feel like you deserve to be here and they make you feel you can perform when you need to," he said.

It had been a long road for him, especially considering he didn't have a contract, for a variety of reasons, last year.

Having seen the Tests involving South Africa against Argentina and Australia he felt the Springboks would provide a tough test for the All Blacks set-piece because the All Blacks had done the same against the same opposition.

"It could be the battle of the set-pieces this weekend," he said.

In preparing for the contest it was about putting processes in place to ensure everything went right, he said.

And having the world's hooker beside him and the world's two best locks behind him made it essential to mould into the system around him.

While being outside the system suggested it could be intimidating he said once you were in the environment it was probably the most special environment in the world, he said.

"It's not an earn-your-place-type mentality, it's 'you're here to perform and we trust you to perform'," he said.

Hooker Dane Coles said he and Wyatt Crockett had to take on some extra leadership responsibilities up front.

"It exciting, obviously we've lost some pretty experienced front rowers but Kane has been here before and he's been given the starting spot and I think it is really exciting. It's just about helping those boys out and making sure they've got all the plays. I've been really impressed with Kane and it makes me and Crocky's [Wyatt Crockett] job a lot easier when guys are willing to learn and get better every day," he said.

Coles said the lineout battle should be fascinating and the pressure would be on the hookers with their throwing. His opponent Malcolm Marx, who had been a massive part of the South African game this year, had been performing well and that would put pressure on the All Blacks locks.

"It's going to be a huge battle and a massive part of the game to secure the set-piece. The Boks have been showing a lot of dominance with the drive time when they win their ball so if we can shut it at the source and not let them get that roll on I think it'll be nice but that's easier said than done.

"It's a big part of their game, the drive and the lineout so we've been doing our homework so we'll see how we go on Saturday," he said.