All Blacks aim to improve discipline in second Bledisloe Test

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Captain Sam Whitelock said the quest for the perfect game was a continuing goal, whether it was ever achievable for individuals or the team. If they could do what they wanted to do for longer periods everyone would be pretty happy.

Being in uncharacteristic territory for Bledisloe Cup rugby, at least, of playing at the same venue on consecutive weekends, was new, but variety had been introduced to ensure the week was different.

They had changed hotels and were training at a different venue, so he didn't think familiarity would be an issue in preparing.

Of more concern was dealing with the issues in the game raised during their traditional debrief.

"It's no secret we gave away 18 penalties, and it was something that allowed them to get in the game in the first 15 [minutes] and the last 15," he said.

"That's something we need to be better at. Making sure we're taking the referee out of it, clearly onside and making good, clear, accurate decisions at the breakdown, and take it from there.

"We get put under pressure in different ways. The boys had good intent, and we drove that throughout the week, last week, about getting off the line and putting pressure on them, but we didn't get it right the whole time.

"That's the beauty about Test match rugby. You're put under pressure and making sure this week we adjust to that pressure and make sure we take the referee out of it and, hopefully, instead of going back 10 metres all the time, we can impose ourselves a bit more," he said.

There were always things to be worked on, and he felt the side made some good gains from their Tests with Tonga and Fiji.

Time and space were always critical in Test rugby. It was about creating time and space for yourself when you had the ball, and taking it away from your opponent when you didn't, he said.

Whitelock said it wasn't only when up 33-8, but whenever they had the momentum, whether at the start of the game or halfway through, they couldn't allow good teams to come back.

That happened on Saturday because they gave the ball way through their indiscipline, knock-ons or wrong decisions, and the Australians made them pay for it, and playing against the breeze that was noticeable on the field, had not helped.

"That's where they held us in our 22 for the last 15 minutes and got points because of it," he said.

Uncertainty over what the future holds as the Covid pandemic continues to impact sport would not be an issue this week for the All Blacks.

They were aware they needed to stay adaptable while at the same time worrying about their immediate task of preparing for Saturday's second Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park. He said that was clear for the Chiefs, who spent three unscheduled weeks in Sydney during Super Rugby, and it was something the players just had to roll with.

New Zealand Rugby and Sanzaar would decide how the Rugby Championship would play out, and the All Blacks would adjust as they did last year and during the Super Rugby competition, he said.


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