All Blacks motivated to wrap up Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park

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Having done that, they will then look at what the future holds.

 

That could see the rest of the Rugby Championship played out in Australia, or it might still see the Springboks playing the 100th Test between the two countries in New Zealand.

 

Like so much else in the Covid-19 era, it was a moving feast, and the All Blacks were prepared for whatever happened, coach Ian Foster said.

 

But the immediate focus was Saturday's Test match.

 

Foster said the Australians were talking about being more aggressive and taking the All Blacks on more. That was the sort of response New Zealand would expect.

 

"I'm pretty intrigued that they're trying to pile pressure on us. It's a Bledisloe Cup series and they're 1-0 down and I'm pretty sure there's a bit of pressure on them too. We want to win it," he said.

 

Foster wasn't buying into the annual comments that the All Blacks may have lost their aura. The person who commented, wing Andrew Kellaway, was a new player, and Foster wasn't reading anything into his remarks.

 

 

Centre Anton Lienert-Brown was not considered due to a slight medial ligament strain suffered late in the first Test. It wasn't something that was immediately an issue, but that became clearer on Sunday and Monday, Foster said.

 

It was a natural fit to move Rieko Ioane in to fill the berth while it also allowed Will Jordan to come in on the right-wing with Sevu Reece crossing to the left. Halfback Finlay Christie has returned to Tasman and is likely to be out of action with his shoulder tear for four to six weeks. A similar period would see Dane Coles out of action with his calf strain.

 

The important consideration at this stage of the season was to keep developing combinations, Foster said. That was the reason behind the injury-forced change. It would also allow the opportunities to enhance the better aspects of their winning performance in the first Test.

 

That was evident also in the retention of the loose forward trio of openside Dalton Papalii, blindside Akira Ioane and No8 Ardie Savea.

 

"We've gone with continuity of performance and put pressure on this group to respond and give us more of a complete performance," he said.

 

They had done some good things and learned through their experience.

 

 

Foster said he was a believer in consolidating what they had learned.

 

"I think it's the right thing for this team for now," he said.

 

"We need to go forward. We're going to get a more committed Australian team and we need to make sure we're matching fire with fire."

 

The penalty count against the All Blacks was a concern, and Foster felt it was possibly exaggerated by what happened in the last quarter when Australia scored three tries. He felt the side was seduced by the scoreboard and had switched off which was disappointing.

 

Those given away on the offside line were penalties the All Blacks could control, and they would look to do that, he said.

 

Foster welcomed the introduction of the 20-minute red card. It was a Sanzaar initiative, and while World Rugby hadn't been too excited by it, it had been added to the list of variations to trial in the Rugby Championship.

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