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Mental edge a useful boost for All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     27 Sep 2017     Getty Images

Lock Luke Romano was asked by an Argentine journalist why they All Blacks were so hard to beat at home and explained the record in New Zealand had a lot to do with teams feeling pressured before they even arrived in the country.
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"Rugby, a lot of it, is about the top two inches. All the athletes around the world are pretty similar, they've all got the same attributes and can all do the same things but it just comes down to that mental attitude and that mindset," he said.

Many teams were beaten before they left home but the British & Irish Lions had come to New Zealand very confident and had shown what could be done when they won a Test and drew another to level the series.

Romano said while the Pumas had still to win their first game this season in the Championship they had not been too far away from winning.

"It's a bit like the bounce of the ball for them, sometimes it goes their way and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately it's probably gone the wrong way a few times but the threats they've got, they've got a very good forward pack, they're physical and their backs are world-class. Some of the things they do we wouldn't mind having a few of them in our team.

"They're not very far away from knocking some big teams over," he said.

Romano said while everything had gone the All Blacks' way against South Africa, Argentina would not be allowing that to happen. While the South African effort had given the All Blacks confidence, they wouldn't have the same luxury against the Pumas.

It was about starting from scratch again to build another performance.

Romano also responded to praise in his direction from coach Wayne Smith after the 57-0 win over the Springboks and the work Romano had done to prepare the All Blacks' lineout strategy.

Romano said when not in the playing 23 his job was to prepare the boys who were selected for the game.

"My role is to analyse the opposition lineouts and help Sam [Whitelock] come up with a plan and also to run the opposition lineouts at training to give them what I think the opposition are going to do to us so that come Saturday the boys are ready for it and it is not a shock.

"If that means putting a little bit of niggle in to upset them and razz them up a bit then so be it. I obviously pick my candidates. It's all in good fun and in the best interest of what we want as a team," he said.

The Pumas had a good lineout, with some big men, and they had been a lineout force for several years.

"What they do, they do very, very well. We're certainly going to be up against it come Saturday and hopefully the plan I nut out works," he said.

While there was a plan there was also a team effort needed to execute it, he said.

Fellow lock Scott Barrett said there were similarities in playing lock and on the blindside flank but what he noticed during his extended period at No.6 against the Springboks in their last outing was the lactic acid normally used in pushing at lock was not a factor in his running and it gave him a lease of life in the loose.

"I was pushing on the side but it's just a wee bit different. Around the field it is similar so those roles do inter-connect," he said.

Getting an unexpected 60 minutes in his first appearance against South Africa had been a boost for his confidence.

Barrett said Argentina would be hungry in their desire to get their first win over the All Blacks on Saturday and they would be kidding themselves if they felt it was going to be an easy match.

"We have to prepare like it is going to be a tough Test match over here in Buenos Aires," he said.