All Blacks always learning – Lienert-Brown

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Hampered by injuries, an elbow operation after Super Rugby and then a hamstring early in the Rugby Championship, Lienert-Brown said being on the sideline during the Test season had been a new experience in his 55-Test career, especially when returning to play.


The injuries were frustrating because he targeted making an impact in 2021 but suffered hand brakes instead. And then coming back into consideration had its challenges.


"It was harder than I thought. I thought I could just roll up and it would be all right, but it did take a while, especially with the hamstring, trying to get back to full speed. It's good to go through that experience," he said.


Regaining Test match rhythm provided more lessons, especially facing up to South Africa's challenge.


"After the [South] Africa game, I took a lot of personal lessons away from that. The first one was winning that physical battle. South Africa is always going to be physical.


"Us, as a midfield, and as a team, we all admitted we weren't good enough in that space. To learn from that, and to win that physical battle last weekend, [against Wales] was a positive," he said.



Lienert-Brown said the Welsh physical approach applied across the field.


"I was talking to Dalts [flanker Dalton Papalii] today, and he said he noticed the physicality difference up in the north here. They get around the corner fast. They clean fast and get the ball away.


"They kick a lot, and have a lot of variation. It's great to play these teams because, again, we're learning," he said.


"On attack, finding the edges while under a lot of pressure. We are a skilful team. We like to move the ball. But when we get in trouble is when we can't do that.


"And kudos to South Africa, they put us under pressure there. They nullified our attack, and that put us under a lot of pressure.


"Finding different ways to balance our game out, we kicked the most we did at the weekend and that helped our attack as well because they're not just having to worry about us running, they're having to worry about us kicking as well. There has been growth in that space," he said.


"We're learning all the time. We hate losing, but you learn the most when you lose. There has definitely been growth."


Lienert-Brown was also handily placed to assess the development of his Chiefs teammate Quinn Tupaea who had enjoyed a similar start to his career with game time early on and some key moments as part of that.


He said that Tupaea's work ethic and attention to detail ensured he would thrive in the All Blacks' environment.


"He's just a testament of hard work paying off, and I'm really proud of him," he said.



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