All Blacks ready for desperate Italy

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Faced with issues in their front row as a result of injuries and suspensions, the All Blacks approach was to consider how they would feel under the same circumstances and they felt Italy would be desperate.


Assistant coach Ian Foster said: "We're expecting an Italian team to bring everything they've got because it's a do-or-die game for them and if we don't respect that and if we don't understand that degree of desperation and intensity that will come then we'll get smacked."


Attempting to overcome the defensive screens teams were attempting to apply hadn't changed. It had always been part of rugby and while defences changed all teams were looking at ways of breaking them down and it was like a game of chess, he said.


"There's so much more attention into that area it seems to be so much harder to get the speed of ball and space that you're really looking for but that's where you've got to get excited about what you can construct and you've also got to get excited about giving guys the ability to react when they do see something.

"It's not always where we expect it and that's why we talk a lot about decision-making and execution. But as a World Cup comes on, it is often easier to give the opposition the ball and tackle your way out of trouble.


"That's how some teams want to play it and we've got to be able to deal with that," he said.


Foster said tackle technique had long been part of their work. This week's work had been about adjustments they needed to make as a result of the weekend's yellow cards resulting from tackling players who were falling.


"It's about learning what we can best do in those situations," he said.


Foster said team management were pleased with the games against Canada and Namibia, the two lesser lights of the pool, while they had 31 fit players who were all pushing for positions.


"We got challenged in both the Canadian and Namibian games and we had to fight our way through some moments," he said.


The All Blacks were looking to make the step up against Italy and then beyond into the playoffs because that was what all other teams would be doing.


They had a 'growth mentality' across the squad but the business end of the tournament was when they looked to their most experienced players to lead the stepping up by the side overall.


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