All Blacks look to repeat dominance upfront

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Vice-captain and lock Brodie Retallick said playing with a similar group each week was helpful around phase play, lineouts and scrums.


He was hopeful they could achieve the same, if not better, level as in their last outing in Auckland because the Australians had been sitting in Perth waiting for the game, and they would be desperate to win.


Retallick acknowledged the challenge put in front of them to aim for a clean sweep in the Bledisloe Cup series because it was something they hadn't done too often in the last 10 years.


At the same time, it was a Rugby Championship Test and the start of another new step for the side, playing five Test matches in five weeks.


"Being able to win any game is going to be massively important in fulfilling the goal of winning the Fortinet Rugby Championship," he said.


It was a bigger mental challenge than a physical one, especially in their preparation, he said.

When Australia came out with a physical approach in the second Test in Auckland, the All Blacks had done well to absorb that pressure before winning.


But in Australia, the home team would be desperate, and the All Blacks were aware of the impact playing in Perth had in Australia's record 47-26 win in 2019. That had been important in ensuring the All Blacks' preparation was geared towards coping with the anticipated challenge.


Hooker Codie Taylor was confident in Retallick's ability to step into the leadership void in Whitelock's absence, while Scott Barrett, who was replacing Whitelock, was another who knew what it took to step up.


Taylor said while the continuity in the pack was useful, there was also excitement from the new players included on the bench. And that was good for the side overall.


Lock Tupou Vaa'i and loose forward Ethan Blackadder had the chance to show what they could offer in Perth.


Taylor, who played in the side's loss in Perth in 2019, said that game had provided some lessons utilised in the lead-up to Sunday's game.


"We probably thought we could just turn up and do what we had done previously. A team like Australia have got a lot to prove, they're dangerous and they're at home so they'll back themselves and be quite confident this weekend," he said.


"It's going to be a tough challenge for us to go out there and make up for what was a couple of years ago."


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