All Blacks team meeting sparks record score against Australia

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And it wasn't all about the rugby.


There is so much peripheral stuff floating about international sport these days, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the constantly shifting ground that makes certainty an impossible dream.


But certainty is an important quality in preparing to compete, and focusing on the immediate is a significant asset.


All Blacks coach Ian Foster said in the wake of Saturday's win that he was proud of the way the side was coping with the uncertainty that faces the remainder of their year.


"It's been a big week sorting things out," he said.


"I'm proud of our group. The balance is, do you front foot these things and have good conversations about them or do you lock it away and get the game done and try to fix things later?



"We had a big meeting on Sunday night as a team. We spoke about the different options; we wrote up all the questions about things we don't know. Some will go to our board, some will go to Robbo [the chief executive of NZ Rugby Mark Robinson], got to [Prime Minister] Jacinda [Ardern]. We don't know all the answers," he said.


But it had been a great session. The immediate outcome was victory over Australia. The next target is flying out on Sunday for Perth, where they play Argentina twice in the Championship.


After that, they will face a buoyant South African team after their series win over the British & Irish Lions and their first-up win over Argentina in the Championship.


By that stage, some clarity may or may not have emerged in the quarantine situation resulting from the Covid lockdowns on Australia's eastern seaboard.


Whether the Springboks Tests will be played in New Zealand or Australia would not be known until that outcome was clear.


"As a group, we've learnt not to hide information from each other but to use it, have a conversation, agree on what we do and don't know and then roll our sleeves up," Foster said.

He praised lock Sam Whitelock's leadership, a leader who has dealt with issues unprecedented for an All Blacks captain.


"It takes a lot when you've got a lot of distractions to stay focused on the task," Foster said. We saw a team [on Saturday] that was pretty focused. It was important we made a statement," Foster said.


"We wanted to respond [to the first Test effort], and the reason we had to respond is we knew the Aussies would lift. They played a combative, physical style in that first 40, and you could see they wanted to take us on upfront.


"We stuck to our plan, we didn't panic or go away from what we wanted to do," he said.


"The leadership and composure from Sam was really good because we were under a lot of pressure in spells, particularly in the first half, so we made some big steps forward in that space."


Whitelock said retaining the Bledisloe Cup was something never taken for granted by the All Blacks.


"If it was, it would be gone pretty quick," he said. "It is very special. It's a trophy we know a lot of the history about."


The annual contest for the Cup was representative of all the rivalry between the trans-Tasman neighbours, not only in rugby but all sport.


"I hope after I've hung up the boots and watching in 20 years that feeling is still there, and I'm sure it will be, because it means so much to both teams and countries," he said.



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