All Blacks benefit from early season camp

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All Blacks coach Ian Foster told that the week had been great for the players.

 "It hasn't given them an extra week off, but it has given them an extra week of preparation going into Super Rugby.

"That extra time, and that gap between the international season and the start of Super Rugby, is critical for us and enables the players to have a good physical-mental break."

They could come together for the two-day camp in January to do a debrief from last year without compromising their time with the Super teams.

The camp involved fitness tests and gave players work-ons to get them up to speed in liaison with their Super sides.

Foster said he was excited by what the fitness tests revealed.

"People [players] are very, very aware of what 2023 is about, and the importance of realising every opportunity they can in the first half of the year to grow their games, and push their case."

They could get their bodies right with good, long pre-seasons and have a progressive approach to returning to play. It also meant some of them would be able to play pre-season games.

"I'm sure, from a physical and mental sense, they're going to be jumping out of their skins from round one, and it's that gap that enables us to do that."

Foster said he was not surprised by comments recalled Australia coach Eddie Jones made earlier in the week about coming after the All Blacks.

"There's always a lot of things come out when Eddie's around. He's a quality coach and quality person. I enjoy him. He is unique.


"In surprise circumstances, he's turned up on our back doorstep, and he'll bring a lot of spice to that Australian thing.

"He says they're coming for us, but we hear that every year. They are always important Test matches for us, and his presence will make it more colourful, but also, he's a quality coach and knows what he's doing.

"I can't wait for those battles."

Foster said he expected the All Blacks would cope well with the closing of standards at the top of the world rankings.

"There are some quality teams out there, but I've never been to a World Cup that I haven't felt worried about the quality of the opposition. So, nothing's changed.

"We know that we've made some massive progress on some critical parts of our game that we need to get right. We're making great moves in that space, and we know there is a gap from where we want to be.

"Rather than being a negative, I think that will become a key driver for us. There's going to be no complacency.

"We know there are quality teams, but we're also a little bit more than quietly confident with our progress and our growth, and believe that if we can make the moves we need to, we can be absolutely ready and confident going to that World Cup."

Expectations also increased pressure. All Blacks had not always faced it well when No1 at World Cup time.

It was seen in 2019 when a couple of northern hemisphere teams had been ranked higher and didn't achieve what they wanted.

"Frankly, that's everyone else's problem. We believe we're building habits.

"We've shown a lot of steel in areas where teams are trying to muscle us.

"We have a little bit of movement to do in terms of key moments in games in keeping our composure right, but we showed some great rugby [last year], and if we can make the movements, we're in a strong position."


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