All Blacks after elusive clean sweep

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Having extended their hold on the Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks have only achieved clean sweeps in three years of the last 10, which showed it was harder to do than many people expected.

 

Coach Ian Foster said that inability showed that sub-consciously the All Blacks did not switch well from a Bledisloe Cup series to a Rugby Championship series.

 

Foster said the lack of changes was due to the fact it was a Rugby Championship game. While the Championship started with the second Bledisloe Cup in Auckland, that game had the incentive of wrapping up the Cup.

 

The Perth Test was firmly about the Championship. It was also the first of five Tests in five weeks. It was also a Test they needed to win to position themselves in the best place to win the Championship.

 

 

That was one reason why they had erred on using their most battle-hardened players, and the other was due to the circumstances they had been through with lockdown before leaving New Zealand and then quarantine since arriving in Australia.

 

"That's been a key driver to make sure we have got guys that are used to playing at this intensity in a hurry," he said.

 

The setup for the team had been good, and there had been no issues with their treatment and Foster praised the work of the Western Australia Government.

 

The decision to go with Brad Weber at halfback in place of Aaron Smith reflected his involvement throughout the season. TJ Perenara hadn't been with the side.

"TJ's come in and been outstanding, he's part of our leadership group and he's an important voice. He's training well but it is a vote of confidence in Brad. I think he's done well through the Steinlager Series, it's a chance for him to get a bit of confidence from getting a starting position because, quite frankly, without Aaron here we need all our halfbacks firing," he said.

 

The choice of Jordie Barrett at fullback was the reward for the hard work he had been putting in. He was keen for an opportunity, and the selectors were keen to see him answer what they felt was his biggest work on, his decision-making in attack and defence.

 

"We know he's a great individual athlete who can do some pretty special things, it's just about bringing that calmness at the back and making sure we have real clarity with the ball and without the ball. I'm really delighted with how he's prepared. He's gone well and we've got a lot of faith in him and there's a nice little battle going there at fullback," he said.

 

Placing Rieko Ioane on the left wing demonstrated how well he was playing, as was the player he replaced Sevu Reece.

 

"Rieko is on top of his game, he's confident. I like his growth at both centre and wing. I've got no doubt he will go back in to centre at some point but right now, his confidence is high, he's running fast and I'm enjoying his work rate and his contribution off the park, so he's in a good spot," he said.

 

New captain Ardie Savea had been making a big contribution to the side's off-field effort, and as the game gets closer, he was switching to that role. He had the confidence of the selectors and coaches.

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