All Blacks' motivation focused on the now

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Lynn McConnell     13 Nov 2018     Getty Images

That was the view of second five-eighths Ryan Crotty and hooker Dane Coles, two of the key contributors to the dramatic injury time finish in 2013 that was the starting point in the modern rivalry between the sides.

Crotty said he hadn't to do anything in the match-winning try he scored against Ireland in 2013, hooker Dane Coles had done all the work. But he did say he had had to apologise to every Irishman he had met ever since.

"It was nice to think we went undefeated that year so it was really special for the boys, but excited to be back. It's a great city to be in and an immensely tough opponent this weekend," he said.

Coles said some history had developed between the sides in recent years and he was looking forward to enjoying the week.

The recent history had added to the rivalry between the sides but those things weren't going to help the teams on Saturday, Coles said.

They were both new teams with new players and both teams would be looking for the win and the All Blacks wouldn't be looking to the past for motivation because there was motivation enough for the game itself this week, he said.

"How can you not be excited if you've got this opportunity to play? You've got the best two teams in the world going at it, awesome atmosphere, awesome stadium, great fans. You don't need to go anywhere else, you don't need to dip into the past to find the desire to want to play and then play well, so it's a special opportunity for whoever gets to run out there on Saturday," Crotty said.

Coles said: "I think there's a bit more intensity and build-up to it now because if you look at it since 2013 they're a side that's been on the rise and they deserve all the credit they get. Our previous matches have been pretty close so they deserve all that respect so it's going to be a hummer this week," he said.

While they had added the skill factor to their game, the Irish were hard, direct men and very physical and the All Blacks had to go to their limit in preparation.

Crotty said Tests like that against Ireland were the ones that players wanted to participate in where the atmosphere was always great and he was sure Saturday's Test would be another special one.

He said he was gutted for Sonny Bill Williams who hadn't been able to string together a decent run without injuries. Behind the scenes he saw how hard Williams worked to come back from niggly injuries and he had been set back again with a shoulder injury against England.

"He's got a pretty mature outlook on things and he takes these things in his stride and he'll come back stronger," he said.

Ireland had good backs across the field and former New Zealand player Bundee Aki was playing well at second five-eighths. Crotty recalled playing against him when he was playing for the Chiefs when he was a great player and since coming to Ireland he had come in leaps and bounds.

"It's cool to see him getting his opportunity but they've got Robbie Henshaw there as well, who's an outstanding ball runner," he said.

Coles said seeing former Super Rugby teammates or opponents turning up in northern hemisphere sides had been weird.

He had found that when running into former Hurricanes flanker Brad Shields before the England game.

"I suppose when you've got a personal relationship it's quite difficult but when you're out there you need to do a job and you can put those relationships aside on the field, but we were happy to catch up after the game," he said.

That was special and was the nature of what was happening in rugby now. He and Shields had swapped their jerseys after the game and that had been special.

Coles said he was starting to feel he was getting more rhythm in his game and he was enjoying being back on the field.