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All Blacks brace for SA backlash

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Lynn McConnell     19 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Lock Brodie Retallick still wasn't satisfied with the All Blacks performance at Albany on Saturday against South Africa.

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While there had been an edge to their preparation he said: "We've been talking about putting a bit more of an 80-minute performance on the field and I think tonight was a step in that direction."

He was aware it was all very well playing at home but they knew playing in South Africa's backyard, in Cape Town, would be significantly different.

"The next two weeks are a tough one for the team with the travel and the time zones but it's something all teams have to do and we will try to do it as best we can," he said.

Departing defence coach Wayne Smith had rated the forward effort highly, but Retallick said they knew that was where the Springboks game came from, especially up front, and they had to try and nullify it early on.

Retallick said the contribution of fellow lock Luke Romano to the lineout plan was what the All Blacks were all about.

"Those boys put a lot of work and finer detail into the lineout plan. I read that heading into the game they [the Springboks] had a 95 percent lineout success so it's rewarding when plans like that come off and without those boys' efforts this team wouldn't be what it is," he said.

Hooker Codie Taylor said the All Blacks had been able to apply pressure in the areas they wanted and they managed points when they had the ball.
It was always a case of fronting up mentally against South Africa and front up against their big ball carriers and their mauls and that had been the difference. But, again, he said it would be different in South Africa when they played.

Taylor said he and fellow hooker Dane Coles had a competitive yet respectful relationship.

"Your best coach is the opposing player you are going against and we are going against each other every day during training in the weeks we prepare for the Test so we don't look at it as a grudge thing. We look at it as a chance to grow each other and you get the best out of both players so if we keep doing that hopefully we can get better and better," he said.

Flanker Sam Cane echoed the belief that things will be different in Cape Town.

"They'll be a different beast, they'll be hurting, they'll be wounded so that will be the motivation for that one.

"Playing teams at home is one thing, particularly with these two sides [Argentina and South Africa] are a different beast [for us] away from home," he said.

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Cane said there was a buzz about the team and they felt they had learned a lot in their past few games.

"If we can keep that up that drives a wee bit of excitement about the group as well because in a funny way it is a newish group establishing ourselves, the leaders are growing, new players are growing and it is just a pretty exciting time and a good one to be part of," he said.

Lock Sam Whitelock saw Romano's plan for the lineout was part of the All Blacks' desire to keep evolving because they realised opposing teams were smart enough to work out where the weaknesses were in their plans.

There had been frustration in the side that they hadn't been producing 80-minute performances and Saturday had seen some big strides taken in that regard.

"We've got to make sure we can back it up, it's no good being able to do it once, we've got to be able to consistently do that and that is the hard thing, that's the challenge, that is awaiting us next week.